PASADENA, Calif., 20 July 2009.NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) awarded Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in El Segundo, Calif., a contract to provide a sensor subsystem for a new spacecraft that will help scientists understand the effects of global warming on water systems and crop yields. The terms of the contract were not disclosed.
The spin mechanism Boeing will provide for the Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) observatory will enable the spacecraft sensor to rotate smoothly and continuously as it scans the Earth's surface, measuring soil moisture and temperature. The JPL expects to launch the observatory between 2010 and 2013.
The SMAP spacecraft will provide unprecedented accuracy and resolution of globally mapped moisture conditions in the top layer of the Earth's surface to extend the capabilities of weather climate and prediction models. SMAP data also will be used to measure the uptake and release of carbon in forested regions and to improve flood prediction and drought monitoring.