A 315-million-euro satellite designed to guage the impact of climate change on the movement of water across air, land and sea has been launched by the European Space Agency.
The Soil, Moisture and Ocean Salinity probe’s findings will fill important gaps in scientific knowledge about earth’s life-giving water cycle. SMOS has a dual mission. One is to measure the water content of soil across the planet every three days to a depth of one to two metres which will improve short and medium term weather forecasting as well as monitoring photosynthesis and plant growth. It is also critical for calculating the planet’s carbon cycle, the process by which heat-trapping carbon dioxide is released and absorbed, especially by plants and the oceans. SMOS shared its ride into space with a small demonstration satellite called Proba-2. The washing-machine sized craft will test hardware and software that might be used in future missions.