Satellite Launch Improves Global Water Cycle Monitoring
On May 18, 2012 at 1:40am JST, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched its newest polar-orbiting satellite into space. GCOM-W1, nicknamed "SHIZUKU" (or "water drop"), is intended to provide global monitoring of Earth's water cycle. On board is the AMSR-2 sensor that continues the legacy of the AMSR-E sensor flown on NASA's Aqua satellite. AMSR detects microwave energy emitted by the planet, which is very sensitive to changes in water concentration, density, and heat. AMSR-2 will improve NOAA's current monitoring of atmospheric moisture, precipitation, sea ice, temperature, and many other variables.Shown here is a plot of soil moisture, acquired from the NASA AMSR-E satellite sensor from September 28 - October 2, 2011. Satellite-based soil moisture products, such as those from AMSR-E and the Suomi NPP ATMS sensor, are critical tools for both monitoring and predicting drought patterns across the globe.
Courtesy of NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory