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New SA Earth missions explore our complex planet

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  28 Feb 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Washington, February 27: Four new SA Earth-observing missions are collecting data from space - with a fifth newly in orbit - after the busiest year of SA Earth science launches in more than a decade. On February 27 last year, SA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched the Earth-observing Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory into space from Japan. SA’s newest Earth-observing satellite, the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), was launched Jan 31 this year to begin its mission to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed. Data from GPM and the other new missions are making observations and providing scientists with new insights into global rain and snowfall, atmospheric carbon dioxide, ocean winds, clouds and tiny airborne particles called aerosols, the US space agency said in a statement. “This has been a phenomelly productive year for SA in our mission to explore our complex planet from the unique vantage point of space,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of SA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC. (ians)

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