US space agency NASA is going to launch its Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite (SMAP) from Vandenberg Air Force base in California on Thursday.
According to the American space agency, the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket will kick off carrying SMAP at 9:20 am EST (1420 GMT) from the base station.
The weather officials have predicted an 80 percent chance of good weather conditions during the three-minute launch window of the rocket.
The satellite is designed in such a way that it provides the researchers and scientists with the most accurate measurement of the moisture of Earth’s dirt, NASA said.
The scientists said that the information provided by the satellite can help scientists and weathermen in creating more accurate weather reports and models and contribute immensely by prior alerting about the droughts, floods and other natural calamities.
NASA’s SMAP probe is equipped with a massive 20-feet high mesh antenna that will be deployed after launch. This antenna is the largest of its kind that has been flown in space by the American space agency. It is designed in such a way that it spins at approximately 14.6 revolutions a minute after getting mounted to the end of a long arm on the body of the satellite.
From its spot in orbit nearly 426 miles above the surface of Earth, SMAP can measure moisture present up to two inches of soil.
The satellite will complete one orbit once every 98.5 minutes. The soil information gathered by the satellite could serve a great purpose for the scientists in finding out more about the droughts or floods occurrence and the places that are vulnerable to them. By measuring the moisture present in top-level of soil ahead of time, it could also assist the researchers in better predicting where floods will happen.
NASA has spent USD 916 million on the mission which is expected to last roughly three years or more.
SMAP, one of the five Earth-monitoring satellites of NASA, was originally scheduled for launch last year. Three of the missions include: Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory, Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite and ISS-RapidScat, all were launched in 2014. The remaining two satellite launches, SMAP and Cloud-Aerosol Transport mission, were delayed until 2015.