The launch of NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 29. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 2 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket is targeted for 6:20:42 a.m. PST (9:20:42 a.m. EST) at the opening of a three-minute launch window. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available on the Western Range on Jan. 30 with the same launch window.
SMAP is the first U.S. Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. High-resolution space-based measurements of soil moisture and whether the soil is frozen or thawed will give scientists a new capability to better predict natural hazards of extreme weather, climate change, floods and droughts, and will help reduce uncertainties in our understanding of Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles.
The mission will provide the most accurate and highest-resolution maps of soil moisture ever obtained, mapping the globe every two to three days from space for a least three years. The spacecraft's final circular polar orbit will be 426 miles (685 kilometers) at an inclination of 98.1 degrees. The spacecraft will orbit Earth once every 98.5 minutes and will repeat the same ground track every eight days.
Participants in the prelaunch news conference will be:
Christine Bonniksen, SMAP Program Executive, NASA Headquarters
Tim Dunn, NASA Launch Manager, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Vernon Thorp, Program Manager, NASA Missions, United Launch Alliance, Centennial, Colorado
Kent Kellogg, SMAP Project Manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
Dara Entekhabi, SMAP Science Team Leader, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
1st Lt. John Martin, Launch Weather Officer, 30th Operations Support Squadron, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
CUBESAT SCIENCE BRIEFING
An ELaNa CubeSat briefing will be held immediately following the prelaunch news conference. NASA will launch three small research satellites for two universities and JPL. More than 100 university students have been involved in the design, development and construction of the CubeSats that are being flown as auxiliary payloads on the SMAP mission. Presenting the mission science objectives for the ELaNa CubeSats will be:
Scott Higginbotham, NASA ELaNa-X Mission Manager, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Dave Klumpar, Firebird-II Principal Investigator, Director, Space Science and Engineering Laboratory, Montana State University, Bozeman
John Bellardo, Co-Principal Investigator CubeSat Program, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
David Rider, GRIFEX Principal Investigator, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
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