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SMAP - Soil Moisture Active Passive - Mapping soil moisture and freeze/thaw state from Space
BLOGS FROM THE FIELD
Training Day & Area Control Centre
June 5, 2012
Eni Njoku
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Arrived yesterday evening (Monday June 4) and settled into the hotel near the airport. The Twin Otter had arrived a couple of days earlier from Grand Junction, Colorado via Wyoming and is hangared at Winnipeg airport.

Training (First Day)

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Heather and Grant explain high points in the ROC.

Early Tuesday morning we headed for the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Regional Operations Center (ROC), Winnipeg located on the other side of town near the University of Manitoba campus. This is to be the training center and gathering place for SMAPVEX12 field operations. Heather McNairn (AAFC) the lead site organizer on the Canadian side, Mike Cosh (USDA) and Grant Wiseman (AAFC) were there to meet everyone, and after welcomes and a brief round of introductions including a summary of SMAP status from Eni and Peggy the training began.

Everything that field samplers might need to know about schedules, procedures and logistics was patiently explained, sampling partners were introduced, and some do's and don'ts were covered (safety and other matters).

In the afternoon Aaron, Rotimi and others led demonstrations of the various types of soil sampling equipment. The PALS folk (Seth, Andreas, and I) headed off for an appointment with the Twin Otter pilots to pay a visit to the Winnipeg Area Control Centre (air traffic control).

aaron
The initial ground crew - others will join later in the campaign, and some will leave.
aaron
Aaron provides more detail on sampling techniques in the field outside the ROC. Weather conditions are favorable, with rain last week and more expected on Thursday.


At the Area Control Centre
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Seth and Andreas in the ACC control room.

The two pilots (Richard Webb and David Hanks) met us at the ESSO Avitat hangar, which will be the Twin Otter aircraft's home for the next month and a half. The plane was parked at the rear with the PALS instrumentation ready and installed. The pilots, and Seth and Ian O'Dwyer (arriving tonight from JPL) will be making a test flight for instrument checkout tomorrow. We then drove over to the ACC building a short distance away where the pilots and the air traffic control chief went through a mutual briefing on the planned Twin Otter flights and procedures for the six-week campaign. While they were exchanging details we were given a quick tour and education by one of the supervisors. We found out how important the Winnipeg area control center and air traffic controllers are (being at the continent dead center) to the smooth running of air traffic all over Canada.

We could see on the screens all the upper-level air traffic criss-crossing between Europe and Asia and the U.S., as well as the lower-level more local traffic, and it was explained to us how all this was controlled. What an operation!

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The basics of air traffic control explained...

We noticed an outlined 'red zone' on the screens where we could see some odd-looking curved trajectories. It was explained that these were movements of fighter jets taking part in the annual "Maple Flag" exercise which provides training for Canadian and allied fighter aircrews, as well as transport, electronic warfare, air refueling, air defence, and airborne early warning training, etc. All taking place over the vast territories and airspace of the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) in northern Alberta.

Back at the hotel we prepared detailed schedules for tomorrow's PALS test flights.

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