Workers prepare to lift the canister containing the interstage adapter, or ISA, for NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive mission, or SMAP, from its transportation trailer in the high bay of the Building 836 hangar on south Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket will loft SMAP into orbit from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 2. The ISA connects the Delta II first and second stages and encloses the second stage engine and thrust section. The spacecraft 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. The data returned 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