The second satellite in ESA’s Earth Explorer series – the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission – and the second demonstration satellite under ESA’s Project for On-board Autonomy (Proba-2) were launched into orbit last night from northern Russia.
SMOS will play a key role in the monitoring of climate change on a global scale. It is the first ever satellite designed both to map sea surface salinity and to monitor soil moisture on a global scale. It features a unique interferometric radiometer that will enable passive surveying of the water cycle between oceans, the atmosphere and land. Dutch scientists will be working with SMOS data, supported by Netherlands Space Office.
Traveling piggyback on the launch of SMOS, Proba-2 is a follow-on to the highly successful Proba-1 satellite launched in 2001. It will demonstrate 17 advanced satellite technologies. Dutch space industry developed a new type of micro thrusters and a digital sun sensor. PROBA 2 is also carrying a set of four science instruments to observe the Sun and study the plasma environment in orbit.