Launch of NASA Soil Moisture Mapping Mission Set for Saturday

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2015 /Nassau News Live/ — NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive mission (SMAP) now is scheduled to launch from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California at 9:20 a.m. EST (6:20 a.m. PST) Saturday, Jan. 31 on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 7 a.m.

Managers from NASA and United Launch Alliance gave a “go” to proceed with the launch following completion of minor repairs to the Delta II rocket. During inspections following the Thursday launch attempt, minor “debonds” to the booster insulation were identified. A standard repair was implemented.                                                                      

Weather forecasters are predicting a 100 percent chance of favorable conditions for launch.

SMAP will provide high-resolution, space-based measurements of soil moisture and its state — frozen or thawed — a new capability that will allow scientists to better predict natural hazards of extreme weather, climate change, floods and droughts, and help reduce uncertainties in our understanding of Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles.

The mission will map the entire globe every two to three days for at least three years and provide the most accurate and highest-resolution maps of soil moisture ever obtained. 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 repeat the same ground track every eight days.

For an updated schedule of prelaunch briefings, events and NASA TV coverage, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/1xaYUzD

For in-depth prelaunch, countdown and launch day coverage of the liftoff of SMAP aboard the Delta II rocket, go to:

http://blogs.nasa.gov/smap

For NASA TV schedules and video streaming information, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For more information about the SMAP mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/smap

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