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.