The Soil Moisture Active Passive, or SMAP, mission is NASA’s first Earth-observing satellite mission designed to collect continuous global observations of surface soil moisture and freeze/thaw state every 2-3 days at 3 to 40 kilometer (~2 to 25 mile) spatial resolution. As suggested by the name “Active Passive,” SMAP will carry an active microwave radar and a passive microwave radiometer that will measure across a 1000-kilometer (~621-mile) wide swath.
The SMAP spacecraft is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, CA aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II 7320-10C on January 29, 2015. The spacecraft will be placed in a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit 685 kilometers (~425 miles) above Earth, crossing the equator at both 6:00 AM (descending node) and 6:00 PM (ascending node).
Visit smap.jpl.nasa.gov for the original visualization and other multimedia about SMAP.