Sixth SMOS Workshop – science community prepares for data
Around 90 scientists from 20 different countries recently gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark to attend the sixth workshop dedicated to the SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) mission. The event provided the forum for the science community to discuss the latest scientific results and the opportunity to fine-tune plans for optimising the returns of the mission.
The three-day event, organised by ESA, CESBIO (Centre for the Study of the Biosphere from Space) and the Technical University of Denmark, proved a successful meeting as the launch of SMOS next year draws closer. SMOS, also referred to as ESA's Water Mission aims to improve the understanding of the global water cycle by mapping soil moisture over land and ocean salinity in the surface waters of the oceans, as well as monitoring snow and ice covered regions.
The workshop focused on detailed analysis of recent scientific results and ways forward to optimise the science return of the mission – this included validation and calibration activities planned to support the mission, which are currently being finalised. Software tools, which have been developed for the mission, were also demonstrated to the science community.
Following the outline of the current status of the mission by the ESA SMOS Project Team, workshop presentations covered a number of associated topics such as retrieval schemes, ways of correcting for galactic and solar signal contaminations, the assimilation of SMOS data products to higher-level products, the synergy between SMOS data and other satellite instruments such as MetOp's ASCAT (Advanced Scatterometer) and the US Aquarius and AMSR-E (Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer – for the Earth Observing System) instruments, and the use and establishment of measurement networks for validation.
Specific presentations focused on the coSMOS campaign (campaign for validating the operation of SMOS) performed in cooperation with the Australian NAFE (National Airborne Field Experiment), the recently completed coSMOS ocean salinity campaign carried out in the North Sea off Norway and the DOMEX experiment conducted at the DOME-C area in Antarctica – for which a follow on activity is being planned.
The workshop also provided the opportunity to present the first images by the HUT-2D instrument (Helsinki University of Technology 2-D (U-shaped) interferometer). This is an airborne system that uses a similar measurement principle to SMOS, and which will be available for calibration and validation activities.
In conclusion, the workshop proved very useful providing the opportunity for the science community to come together to discuss in depth the many science aspects relating to the SMOS mission. The event takes the project another step forward helping to ensure that the eventual data that will be delivered by SMOS will be of the highest quality possible. However, there still remains some concern that the SMOS signal - obtained in a protected frequency band- may be jeopardised should the protection be reduced. It was agreed at the workshop that this issue shall be further investigated.
Viewgraphs and posters presented during the workshop are available for download from the CESBIO website.