SMOS instrument and platform unite

Following the successful three-month testing period at ESAESTEC, the payload for ESA’s Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity mission was formally handed over to Thales Alenia Space in Cannes (France), for integration with the satellite platform. The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) payload module, developed under an ESA contract by EADSCASA in Madrid, carries the innovative Microwave Imaging Radiometer using Aperture Synthesis (MIRAS). Over the past months, the instrument has been assembled, tested and is now fully qualified for flight.

In parallel, the French Space Agency CNES —cooperating with ESA for the SMOS mission— has procured a Proteus platform within the framework of its ‘Five Platform Procurement’ contract with Thales Alenia Space. In order to start this next phase efficiently, ESA, Thales Alenia Space and CNES have been working together to review the documentation, test results and planning.

SMOS is due for launch in 2008 and once in orbit will observe soil moisture over the Earth’s landmasses and salinity over the oceans. Soil moisture data are urgently required for hydrological studies and data on ocean salinity are vital for improving our understanding of ocean circulation patterns.

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