Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Entekhabi will lead science team for NASA satellite mission to map Earth’s water cycle

30.04.2008
MIT Professor Dara Entekhabi will lead the science team designing a NASA satellite mission to make global soil moisture and freeze/thaw measurements, data essential to the accuracy of weather forecasts and predictions of global carbon cycle and climate. NASA announced recently that the Soil Moisture Active-Passive mission (SMAP) is scheduled to launch December 2012.

At present, scientists have no network for gathering soil moisture data as they do for rainfall, winds, humidity and temperature. Instead, that data is gathered only at a few scattered points around the world.

“Soil moisture is the lynchpin of the water, energy and carbon cycles over land. It is the variable that links these three cycles through its control on evaporation and plant transpiration. Global monitoring of this variable will allow a new perspective on how these three cycles work and vary together in the Earth system,” said Entekhabi, director of the Parsons Laboratory for Environmental Science and Engineering in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“Additionally because soil moisture is a state variable that controls both water and energy fluxes at the land surface, we anticipate that assimilation of the global observations will improve the skill in numerical weather prediction, especially for events that are influenced by these fluxes at the base of the atmosphere,” he said.

The SMAP mission is based on an earlier satellite project led by Entekhabi that had been selected by NASA from among 20 proposals and scheduled for a 2009 launch. However, the Hydrosphere State Mission (Hydros) was cancelled abruptly in 2005 when funding for NASA’s earth sciences missions was diverted. But in July 2007, the National Research Council recommended that NASA make the soil moisture measurement project a top priority and place it on a fast track for launch.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., is the lead NASA center for the project, with participation from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Md. NASA’s lead scientists on the project are Eni Njoku, SMAP project scientist at JPL, and Peggy O’Neill, SMAP deputy project scientist at GSFC.

“Research conducted by MIT faculty and students is at the forefront of SMAP’s science objectives, and MIT can play an important role in contributing to the mission’s algorithms and science products,” said Njoku, who earned his Ph.D. from MIT in 1976. “MIT students have the opportunity to be involved in many aspects of the mission.”

SMAP’s launch in 2012 is feasible in part because Entekhabi and other scientists continued to develop the mission, even when NASA’s support was withdrawn in 2005.

The instruments that will be deployed in SMAP will gather both passive and active low-frequency microwave measurements on a continuous basis, essentially creating a map of global surface soil moisture. A 6-meter deployable mesh antenna on a satellite will gather data across a swath of 1,000 kilometers, creating ribbons of measurements around the globe and completing the cycle every few days.

In addition to measuring soil moisture, the satellite will detect if the surface moisture is frozen. In forests, the freeze/thaw state determines the length of the growing season and the balance between carbon assimilation into biomass and the loss of carbon due to vegetation respiration. The result of this balance can tell scientists if a forest is a net source or net sink of carbon.

One mission obstacle that Entekhabi and team solved last year was integrating the two types of measurements the satellite would gather: passive measurements collected by radiometer, and active collected by radar. The radiometer measurements provide highly accurate data at a coarse resolution of 40 kilometers. The radar measurements provide much higher resolution (3 kilometers), but with less sensitivity. The combination of the two measurements through algorithms designed by the SMAP science team will result in accurate mapping of global soil moisture at 10 km.

Entekhabi is the Bacardi and Stockholm Water Foundations Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.

Denise Brehm | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://smap.jpl.nasa.gov/
http://www.mit.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht A damming trend
17.12.2018 | Michigan State University

nachricht Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis
13.12.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Formed to Meet Customers’ Needs – New Laser Beams for Glass Processing

17.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Preserving soil quality in the long term

17.12.2018 | Architecture and Construction

New RNA sequencing strategy provides insight into microbiomes

17.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>