An Earth Explorer
The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission will be ESA’s second Earth Explorer in orbit. It follows on from the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE), which was launched in March 2009.
Earth Explorers are a series of Earth observation missions that focus on the science and research elements of ESA’s Living Planet Programme. Developed in direct response to the needs of the scientific community, they aim to improve our understanding of how the Earth system works and how human activity is affecting natural Earth processes. Earth Explorers also demonstrate innovative techniques in Earth observation.
Known as ESA’s water mission, SMOS will make global observations of soil moisture over land and sea-surface salinity over the oceans to improve our understanding of the water cycle. Data from SMOS will be important for weather and climate modelling, water resource management, agriculture and also contribute to the forecasting of hazardous events such as floods.