A crane is used to offload the first stage of a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket following its arrival at NASA hangar 836 on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch vehicle will be used to deliver NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive mission, or SMAP, into orbit.
SMAP will provide global measurements of soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. These measurements will be used to enhance understanding of processes that link the water, energy and carbon cycles, and to extend the capabilities of weather and climate prediction models. SMAP data also will be used to quantify net carbon flux in boreal landscapes and to develop improved flood prediction and drought monitoring capabilities. Launch is scheduled for November 2014. To learn more about SMAP, visit http://smap.jpl.nasa.gov Photo credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin