A better understanding of climate comes one step closer as SMOS advances to Phase B
A notable milestone has recently been reached in ESA’s Living Planet Programme as its second Earth Explorer Opportunity Mission, SMOS, officially moves into the next phase of development. Following crucial negotiations for the Phase B (preliminary design) contract at the end of last year, it has been agreed that EADS CASA (Spain) would be the prime contractor for the development of the SMOS payload.
SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) is designed to observe two key variables of the Earth System, namely soil moisture over land and salinity over oceans. Data from these two variables is much needed in order to advance the development of climatological, meteorological and hydrological models. In addition, the mission aims to provide new insights into the structure of ice and snow, thereby helping to advance our understanding of the cyrosphere. SMOS is scheduled to launch in 2007.
The technical requirements for the SMOS mission are particularly stringent as the mission is adopting a completely new approach in the field of remote sensing. Nevertheless, the agreement with EADS CASA demonstrates that the technical hurdles imposed by the mission are being overcome as the mission moves into the next phase of development. EADS CASA leads a team of a number of subcontractors, some of whom were also involved in Phase A (feasibility study).
Phase B is expected to last one year and will cumulate in the Preliminary Design Review, after which the construction phase will begin.