NASA satellite set to help farmers combat drought

NASA is set to launch a satellite with the capacity to measure soil moisture on a global scale. Once operational, data from the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite could be used to inform farmers in agricultural decision making, providing unprecedented levels of detail on moisture trends with an efficiency and speed unattainable using current technology.
The methods of observation offered by the SMAP satellite, due to launch in November this year atop a Delta 2 rocket, will represent a significant leap forward in the field of soil moisture mapping. Previous satellite-based missions could not achieve the soil penetration or resolution boasted by the SMAP satellite.
Another form of soil observation used for moisture measurement prior to the launch of the SMAP system is to take spot measurements, however these are inherently unreliable, making it very difficult to gain an accurate reading over a large area. SMAP on the other hand carries out the same task on a global scale, mapping the entire planet once every two to three days.