The SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) programme, the second Earth Explorer Opportunity mission selected under ESA's Living Planet programme, has been designed to observe and monitor two important variables of the Earth's climate system Ð soil moisture over landmasses and salinity over the oceans. These two parameters are of key interest as they are fundamental for understanding the planet's global water cycle, and thus for the creation of atmospheric, oceanographic and hydrological prediction models. EADS Astrium Spain has designed and built the SMOS mission's single-instrument payload and the innovative two-dimensional interferometer MIRAS (Microwave Imaging Radiometer using Aperture Synthesis). A real technological challenge, it employs measuring techniques that have never before been used in space. From a scientific, technological and industrial point of view, MIRAS is the most significant programme developed for ESA in Spain to date. The SMOS satellite was launched on a Rockot vehicle from the Russian Cosmodrome of Plesetsk in November 2009.
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