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Space Hardware Science

Europe Launches Flood-Predicting Satellite and Test Probe 28

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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  • 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.

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