Looking back to earth
Earth-observing missions have similar needs to space science: it takes novel technologies to monitor different aspects of the complex Earth system. ESA’s 2009-launched Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission relies on a new technical concept invented at ESA and perfected through a series of R&D projects. Like a radio telescope looking down instead of up, it picks up faint radio signals from Earth’s watery ‘skin’ – measuring the key climate parameters of soil moisture over land and ocean salinity over sea. The results are much more accurate weather and climate models, benefiting agriculture and industry as well as environmental science.
Last update: 14 November 2012