NASA is preparing for a Thursday, Jan. 29, launch of the first U.S. Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture. The agency’s Soil Moisture Active Passive mission (SMAP) will lift off from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:20 a.m. EST (6:20 a.m. PST) on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket.
NASA Television coverage will begin at 7 a.m. In addition to launch coverage, NASA also will host a series of prelaunch news conferences Tuesday, Jan. 27, at Vandenberg. All briefings, which are subject to change in time, will air live on NASA TV and the agency's website.
SMAP will provide high resolution, space-based measurements of soil moisture and its state -- frozen or thawed -- a new capability that will allow scientists to better predict natural hazards of extreme weather, climate change, floods and droughts, and help reduce uncertainties in our understanding of Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles.
The mission will map the entire globe every two to three days for at least three years and provide the most accurate and highest-resolution maps of soil moisture ever obtained. The spacecraft's final circular polar orbit will be 426 miles (685 kilometers), at an inclination of 98.1 degrees. The spacecraft will orbit the Earth once every 98.5 minutes and repeat the same ground track every eight days.
For an updated schedule of prelaunch briefings, events and NASA TV coverage, visit:
For in-depth prelaunch, countdown and launch day coverage of the liftoff of SMAP aboard the Delta II rocket, go to:
For NASA TV schedules and video streaming information, visit:
For more information about the SMAP mission, visit: