SMOS will provide global measurements of soil moisture and ocean salinity, two key variables in the water cycle. In order to turn these first observations into meaningful data, there are a number of steps that have to be taken.
This part of the mission involves the ground segment, which essentially consists of two main components: satellite operations and data receiving, processing and storing stations. The French space agency (CNES) will operate the satellite, and ESA will coordinate the mission and ground segment operations.
The main ground stations will be the Data Processing Ground Segment (DPGS), developed in cooperation with Spain's CDTI (Centro para el Desarrollo Technologico Industrial), at ESA’s European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), in Villafranca, Spain, where data from the satellite will be received and processed, and CNES’ Satellite Operations Ground Segment (SOGS) in Toulouse, France, where commands will be generated and sent to the satellite.
In addition to these facilities, various functions will be carried out at other ESA receiving stations. A near-real time (NRT)acquisition station will be in Svalbard, Norway, and a long-term archive and reprocessing centre will be in Kiruna, Sweden. Request for SMOS data will be handled at ESA’s Earth Observation Research Centre (ESRIN) in Frascati, Italy.
Once data reach the DPGS they will be calibrated, processed, archived and disseminated to users. There will be two parallel processing chains for the scientific and NRT data products, the latter of which will be distributed to operational users within three hours.
All products will be available free of charge to scientific and non-commercial users. They will be made available through the ESA category-1 procedure, either through dedicated Announcements of Opportunities or, for users who have not participated in the past Announcements, a registration service online at ESA's Principal Investigator Portal.