Satellite SMOS (Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity)

SMOS

Launch: November 2, 2009
Status: Active

SMOS was launched on November 2, 2009 on a Russian rocket launcher from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia. It is the first satellite designed to both map sea surface salinity and monitor soil moisture on a global scale, thus contributing to a better understanding of the Earth's water cycle. As a secondary objective, SMOS will also provide observations over snow and ice-covered regions, contributing to the study of the cryosphere.

The SMOS satellite on November 2 in a Russian Rocket in northern Russia

The SMOS satellite, which will study sea surface salinity and monitor soil moisture, was launched on November 2, 2009, on board a Russian Rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. (Credit: ESA)

Mission Overview

Climate change is one of the key challenges of the 21st century, and improving our understanding of it is imperative. Scientists believe that by acquiring more data about soil moisture and ocean salinity--two key variables linked to the Earth's water cycle--they will better understand how a changing climate may be affecting patterns of evaporation over land and ocean.

To gather this essential information, a satellite called SMOS (Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity), developed under the European Space Agency's (ESA) Living Planet Programme, was launched on November 2 on a Russian rocket launcher from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia. It is the first satellite designed to both map sea surface salinity and monitor soil moisture on a global scale, thus contributing to a better understanding of the Earth's water cycle. As a secondary objective, SMOS will also provide observations over snow and ice-covered regions, contributing to the study of the cryosphere.

Why does the SMOS mission matter?

SMOS is the next in a series of ESA's Earth Explorers missions, which are designed to observe critical Earth system variables. SMOS is the first satellite dedicated to providing global measurements of soil moisture and ocean salinity. This will help to further advance environmental research and address the challenges of understanding how the Earth system works and how human activity is impacting natural Earth processes.

Canada and SMOS

As a cooperating member of ESA, Canada is an active participant in the SMOS mission. The Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) participation and funding of Earth Observation Space Technology Programs has enabled Canadian companies to actively contribute advanced technology for demonstration on this satellite. The CSA has invested in this mission and provided support to the scientific exploitation of SMOS data through its Government Related Initiative Program (GRIP).