NASA satellite to track droughts, boost flood warnings

By: | Published: January 11, 2015 9:32 PM

NASA is launching a new satellite this month that will improve drought monitoring and flood warnings...

NASA is launching a new satellite this month that will improve drought monitoring and flood warnings.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite will provide the best maps yet of soil moisture levels from pole to pole, scientists said.

For the first time, scientists will get a bird’s-eye view of drought patterns; for instance, they will watch where droughts begin and end, and how droughts spread across large areas.

Scientists said the soil moisture maps will help farmers who depend on rain to irrigate crops.

The soil moisture maps could also help improve flood warnings because forecasters will know how wet the ground is before an intense storm, ‘Live Science’ reported.

Data from the satellite will track global soil moisture levels for the top 5 centimetres of Earth’s surface every two to three days.

The mission is planned to last three years, at a cost of USD 916 million, but the instruments could last several years longer, mission scientists said.

The SMAP satellite, which will be carried aloft by a Delta II rocket, is scheduled to launch on January 29 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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