NASA will help farmers with drought forecasts through a new satellite, enabling them to better protect their crops from severe dryness. Checking soil humidity for agricultural ends has been experienced based so far as farmers lacked proper equipment to accurately forecast a severe soil dryness event. And the right instrument for getting the job done is NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive Satellite (SMAP). The device is scheduled to launch at the end of January form the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
On 29th of January at 6:20 a.m. PT, the SMAP satellite will start its journey to the stars, equipped with the largest circling antenna ever to reach space so far. According to a NASA announcement made by Wendy Edelstein the director of the satellite program, NASA’s engineers nicknamed SMAP ‘the spinning lasso’.
The reception antenna has a 6 meters (19.7 feet) diameter and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab specialists designed it to fit into a 1 foot by 4 feet launch area. According the Edelstein, manufacturing the antenna was the biggest challenge her team faced.
The satellite will map our planet’s moisture once in two days using two microwave tools that will be able to measure the dampness found in the upper two inches of the planet’s soil. The satellite data is supposed to give researchers and farmers the most precise soil dampness maps ever designed. More importantly, this will give interested parties access to early warnings for drought events.
If drought becomes foreseeable, farmers can alter their irrigation maps and ingraining schedule or can utilize whatever other approach to keep their harvests safe.
Presently, those engaged in agricultural activities forecast drought on the premise of their experience with dampness. NASA alleges that SMAP will give them an independent evaluation of soil humidity.
Narendra Das, a researcher from Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and a part of SMAP’s science group said revealed what is expected of SMAP. According to him, the satellite should help foreseeing how severe a drought event will be. This information will be useful to farmers and help them arrange their recovery from a dry season.
At the moment, California is fighting the most severe drought episode in decades with authorities trying to tackle the problems caused by the severe dryness. This week the state’s lawmakers adopted a series of acts aimed at mending some of the drought effects. California ended last year drier than 2013. The bills enacted regard water conservation and were designed to aid with water contamination inquiries, water recycling and reducing the excessive use of water.
Image Source: NASA.gov