News from the fourth Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAPEx-4) field campaign, carried out in Yanco, NSW, Australia, from May 1-23, 2015. This field experiment is part of the CalVal activities for the NASA SMAP mission.
This past week and a half has been rather quiet as we performed two orbital maneuvers. The first maneuver placed the spacecraft at an altitude closer to its final orbit. The second one slightly adjusted the inclination of the orbit to ensure that...
This past week has been smooth sailing as we tested both of our instruments, the radar and the radiometer. The radar’s high power transmitter was turned on as the spacecraft was flying over the North Atlantic and then over Greenland.
The major milestone this past week was the deployment of the reflector antenna/boom assembly (RBA), which refers to a 5-meter (~16 foot) long boom that holds a 6-meter (~20 foot) diameter antenna at the end of it. For launch the RBA was folded against the spacecraft to fit within the launch vehicle fairing. The boom and antenna together weigh 58 kilograms (127 pounds). Yes, super light for something that size....
A lot has happened since my last posting. The mission operations team has been hard at work testing the spacecraft and learning its intricacies. Having a new satellite in space is like driving a new car, it takes a little while to learn how it behaves and reacts.
WOW, WOW, WOW! Early Saturday morning everything was a GO for the SMAP launch except the high altitude winds were too strong to proceed. Everyone was on edge and ten minutes before the scheduled launch time things turned for the better. The wind situation was deemed “green” and it was safe to continue...
Thursday was a day of much anticipation and excitement. We were ready to go, but high upper winds caused the cancellation of the launch four minutes before lift-off. You might be wondering how we monitor wind conditions at high altitudes (in this case, thirty four thousand feet)...
My name is Erika Podest, and I am a scientist at JPL working on the SMAP mission. I’ll be writing about SMAP’s debut into space and providing updates during this exciting time. Welcome to my first post!
Updates on the vegetation conditions are provided here, monitored by the crop structure team. There were localized thunderstorms on July 15th, which gave 8 mm rainfall according to the local weather data. I happened to be in the field(!) and believe the campaign fields received much more.
As an avid photographer, I totally agree with what Diane Arbus said, “I really believe there are things that nobody would see if I didn't photograph them.” So here in this blog I’m taking a more photojournalistic approach. Enjoy!
Another hot and dry week here in southern Manitoba has us missing the rain just a little bit. We have experienced a very nice dry down cycle in weeks 3 and 4 after a wet up period initially in weeks 1 and 2. By all accounts this will contribute to a very informative and descriptive dataset.
I am signing off from SMAPVEX12 at Winnipeg with good vibes, pleasant memories and expectation that this will be a very successful campaign. I hope that, like me, most of my teammates have learnt substantially about the study area and had a great field sampling experience, and have also made many good friends during interactions and group dinners.
Week 3 provided 7 days of much needed sunshine allowing for a study-site-wide dry down of soils and a significant increase in crop growth. Field crews were able to collect vegetation samples twice and soil moisture measurements four times!
The forecast is for clear weather (started yesterday) that should last through the coming week. PALS and UAVSAR had flights yesterday and today. Tomorrow (Sunday) there will be no flights, and then we plan to fly on Monday and then every third day or so following the 2-3 day flight schedule we originally planned.