Payload and Instrument

The satellite carries a single payload instrument, which uses an innovative technique never employed in space before that is based on interferometric radiometry in the L-band (1.4 GHz). By using highly developed technology from orbit, SMOS will take readings across the whole planet over a period of time - building up 2-D images which will give an overall view of the Earth's water cycle.

SMOS will analyse moisture content in the top few centimetres of soil across the globe. This will show scientists how water moves between the ground and the atmosphere, and what proportion is absorbed by vegetation - helping them to understand how our climate systems work.

By studying the salinity of our oceans, SMOS will provide a reliable picture of how water moves across the planet. Water with a high saline content is denser, meaning that different concentrations control the flow of warm and cold currents - affecting the world's weather systems.