Preparations are underway to move a section of the fairing for NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive mission, or SMAP, onto a transportation cradle in the Building 836 high bay on south Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The fairing will protect the SMAP spacecraft from the heat and aerodynamic pressure generated during its ascent to orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex 2. 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 will also 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