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Earth Science and Applications from Space 23 SMAP Soil Moisture Active-Passive Launch : 2010â2013 Mission size: Medium Orbit: LEO, SSO Agency: NASA Estimated cost: $300 million Areas of interest: Health, Water Instruments: L-band radar, L-band radiometer Benefits: More accurate weather and climate forecasts, especially over interior continental areas Improved early warning and decision support for droughts Better predictions of agricultural productivity Improved flood forecasts, especially in the developing world Although soil moisture strongly affects plant growth and the evolu- tion of both weather and climate, there is no global network to measure it. When accurate readings of soil moisture are fed into weather and climate models, the forecast quality improves and longer lead times become possible. Soil moisture is one of the leading factors in flood and landslide risk, and it also plays an important role in the global carbon cycle through its effects on plant growth. Many field studies have shown that microwave radars provide useful data on soil moisture. SMAP combines an active radar with a passive radi- ometer, allowing soil moisture to be measured and analyzed globally at a resolution of 3 to 10 kilometers every 2 to 3 days. The results will help Earth scientists to better represent the water, energy, and carbon cycles in global models of weather and climate. Significant advances in long-range weather and seasonal forecasting will become possi- ble, and the data will help build a new generation of hydrologic models for predicting and studying floods and droughts.