NASA is preparing a Thursday, January 29, launch of the first U.S. satellite to observe Earth’s water cycle. The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) will help scientists better predict extreme weather, climate change, flood and droughts. The new instrument will join four others in what has been the U.S. space agency’s busiest 12-month period in more than a decade.
"That several satellites would be ready to fly at roughly the same time was a remarkable confluence of events," said NASA earth scientist Tom Wagner. “Satellites take a long time to build. Once it goes to space it is really hard to fix it. So a satellite could take three to six years just to build.”