SMOS Begins Its Operational Mission

PARIS, May 24 (UPI) — The European Space Agency says its SMOS satellite has completed its six-month commissioning and is now fully operational.

The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity satellite is designed to provide global images of soil moisture and ocean salinity to improve science’s understanding of the water cycle, the ESA said. The satellite was launched in November.

SMOS will produce global maps of soil moisture every three days and maps of ocean salinity averaged over 30 days. By consistently mapping those two variables, SMOS will advance our knowledge of the exchange processes between Earth’s surface and atmosphere and also help to improve weather and climate models and be used in such areas as agriculture and water resource management, ESA scientists said.

The ESA has placed three of its Earth Explorer satellites in orbit within little more than a year — the GOCE gravity mission launched in March 2009, followed by SMOS in November and the CryoSat ice mission last month.

Results from the three missions are to be presented during the Living Planet Symposium at the end of June in Bergen, Norway.

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