Published on 10 January 2019
Researchers examining data produced by small satellites launched in 2016 to track ocean winds were surprised the mission produced valuable information on soil moisture and flooding.
NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, a constellation of eight 30-kilogram satellites built by the Southwest Research Institute and the University of Michigan, observed the Amazon River basin in far more detail than NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission, even when SMAPs radar still worked.
“These images got us excited about the potential for doing new land-applications science with the Cygnus data,” said Chris Ruf, CYGNSS principal investigator and University of Michigan climate and space science professor. “Now a number of people on the science team are working on soil moisture retrieval algorithms and flood inundation algorithms based on these early results.”