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Space Hardware Science

Europe Launches Flood-Predicting Satellite and Test Probe 28

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the now-build-one-that-controls-the-weather dept.
MikeChino writes to mention that the European Space Agency has launched a pair of satellites, one that will pinpoint accurately the future location and intensity of floods and droughts, and the other aimed at testing new tech. Launched on a Russian rocket launcher from the Plesestk cosmodrome, the SMOS probe will measure soil moisture, plant growth, and ocean salt levels across the globe. The measurements gathered by the SMOS probe can be used to track ocean circulation patterns and soil moisture — data that can be used to predict quickly drought and flood risk in certain areas, as well as the intricacies of the planet's climate cycle. The other satellite, a smaller demonstration probe dubbed Proba 2, will test 17 new technologies ranging from a new wide-angle view camera to a xenon-fed resistojet thruster.
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Europe Launches Flood-Predicting Satellite and Test Probe

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  • Yay for taking a load of earth.
  • That took me three readings to parse. I'd say it was me, but it's more fun to blame it on the mods.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Editors. The ones you are looking for all called editors. And if irony were xenon right now, we could all fuel our own resistojet thrusters.
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Monday November 02, 2009 @06:53PM (#29956360)

    And a new band name was coined.

    Better add some umlauts, though.

  • by T Murphy (1054674) on Monday November 02, 2009 @07:14PM (#29956570) Journal

    The measurements gathered by the SMOS probe can be used to track [...] soil moisture -- data that can be used to predict quickly drought and flood risk in certain areas

    So when they measure that soil moisture is zero for a while, they can predict that a drought is going to have happened, and with soil moisture of about 6 feet of surface water, they can predict that flooding is going to have happened. Finally we should have a system more accurate than whatever those "meteorologists" use.

    • by khallow (566160) on Monday November 02, 2009 @08:11PM (#29957148)

      So when they measure that soil moisture is zero for a while, they can predict that a drought is going to have happened, and with soil moisture of about 6 feet of surface water, they can predict that flooding is going to have happened. Finally we should have a system more accurate than whatever those "meteorologists" use.

      The irony here is that, despite the sarcasm, this indeed is a faster system. Meteorologists can only measure where they have instruments that they can get data from. If your instrument gets washed out or never existed in the first place, then you don't get a measurement. While this satellite can measure anything it passes over.

  • I get the feeling some one in the naming committee was from Bulgaria in order for them to name it so obviously to the Bulgarian word for Probe.
    • by mirix (1649853)
      I guess I'm not the only one that read that as "proba dva" :-)
      It's Serbian too, but probably from latin or so? Wherever English picked it up from, I assume...

      I think most other slavs would use sond* / zond*; 'proba' is valid in Russian, but i think 'zond' would be first choice.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        PROBA2 [wikipedia.org] is the second technology validation satellite built by a Belgian consortium, and its instruments are built with aid from countries all over Europe and beyond (e.g. LYRA [wikipedia.org]). PROBA [wikipedia.org] stands for "Project for On-Board Autonomy".

  • ENSO formation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fremsley471 (792813) on Monday November 02, 2009 @07:50PM (#29956924)

    The salinity products from SMOS are now the most interesting part of the mission. Serendipitous 50 km soil moisture retrievals from the active microwave scatterometer (primarily an ocean wind sensor) on ESA METOP have been around for a few years and have undercut the novelty of this mission's land surface measurements.

    However, the holy grail of oceanographic remote sensing is observing the surface conditions in the Western Pacific during El Nino formation. Measurements of near-daily surface salinity changes could elucidate the cause of ENSO or, at the very least, would become a useful diagnostic tool. SMOS should be more than capable of this.

  • Carefully worded! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dotancohen (1015143) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @04:52AM (#29961216) Homepage

    ...data that can be used to predict quickly drought and flood risk in certain areas,

    Notice how "gives little to no warning" was worded as "predict quickly".

    • Are you familiar with the idea of a time series graph? Which can be used to extrapolate?

      You know, as in the dry season is approaching and the soil moisture level is heading below safe values, therefore there is very likely to be a drought, therefore we need to do something now?

      When did Slashdot become so popular that it started to attract people who don't understand how prediction and modelling works?

  • Predict floods and droughts, eh? Maybe it'll predict our climate a bit better than IPCC can..

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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