NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has formally launched the three-year mission of its Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite equipped with a mesh reflector developed by a Northrop Grumman subsidiary.
Northrop said Tuesday the Astro Aerospace-built mesh reflector is designed to help SMAP measure soil moisture, gather data on thawed and frozen water, and improve forecasting of floods and drought.
Launched in February, the 6-meter AstroMesh reflector technology has a 55-pound stiff boom designed to deploy the reflector, which spins at around 15 revolutions per minute to form a 620 mile-wide antenna beam to enable global mapping operations every three days.
“SMAP has the potential to affect the lives of each of us, and it is an honor to have participated with the NASA JPL team on such an important project,” said John A. Alvarez, general manager at Astro Aerospace.
JPL operates SMAP, deployed in January from the California-based Vandenberg Air Force Base, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.