UAFNews-L New satellite will monitor soil moisture

Begin forwarded message:

From: “University of Alaska Fairbanks” <uaf-distribution>
Date: February 2, 2015 at 15:00:28 EST
To: uafnews-l
Subject: [UAFNews-L] New satellite will monitor soil moisture
Reply-To: newsroom

New satellite will monitor soil moisture

CONTACT: Sue Mitchell, 907-474-5823, semitchell

As NASA’s newest satellite made its first orbit Saturday morning, the University of Alaska Fairbanks was ready to track it, receive data from it and send commands to it.

Ground-station support is one of two critical roles the UAF Alaska Satellite Facility is playing in the new mission, which will measure the planet’s soil moisture every three days for three years. The mission is called SMAP, for Soil Moisture Active Passive.

The Alaska Satellite Facility’s second role, which will start in the coming months, is distributing SMAP data to scientists. They will use it to understand, and improve forecasting of, all things related to soil moisture, including floods, drought, weather, water supplies and the changing climate.

Part of the UAF Geophysical Institute, the Alaska Satellite Facility downlinks, processes, archives and distributes remote-sensing data to scientific users around the world. To support SMAP, the facility will use the newest of its three antennas, an 11-meter antenna operated by the facility on behalf of NASA, installed in 2013 on the UAF Fairbanks campus.

The Alaska Satellite Facility is one of two NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers that will distribute SMAP data to scientists. The other is the National Snow and Ice Data Center, located in Boulder, Colorado.

Four ground stations will downlink SMAP data. The others are in Antarctica, Argentina and Norway.

SMAP launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 5:22 a.m. Alaska Standard Time on Saturday, Jan. 29.

ON THE WEB: Alaska Satellite Facility,

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