NASA Is Just Killing It With These Earth-Watching Satellites

Eric Roston in BloombergBusiness 27 Feb 2015

Five satellites launched in the past year are keeping an eye on Earth, wind and fire. And water.

This map shows solar-induced fluorescence, a plant process that occurs during photosynthesis, from Nov. through Dec. 2014 as measured by NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2. NASA/JPL-Caltech

This map shows solar-induced fluorescence, a plant process that occurs during photosynthesis, from Nov. through Dec. 2014 as measured by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Anybody can drive a shovel into the ground to see how moist the soil is. What’s tricky is doing it over every square yard of land on Earth. From 426 miles above the surface of the planet. Every 100 minutes.

Fortunately, we don’t have to. Now there’s SMAP, the newest NASA Earth-observing satellite, which from its orbit can read soil moisture levels two inches deep, just about anywhere there’s soil. It will help predict floods and weather, watch droughts, and monitor agricultural conditions, particularly where people’s lives may be urgently at stake.

SMAP is one of five Earth satellites launched in the past year, all of which will produce data helpful to hurricane first-responders, weather forecasters, farmers, climate scientists, or anybody who likes to look at beautiful animated graphics on the Internet.  Click here to read more.

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