Measuring Soil Moisture for Global Maps
A NASA satellite called the Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) is scheduled to launch in 2014. Its mission will be to gather soil moisture data from above, eventually leading to global maps. In support of this project, University of Michigan engineering professors Mahta Moghaddam and Mingyan Liu are installing networks of wireless sensors on the ground in several test spots. The data from the sensors will be used to validate the satellite data - to help ensure that the orbiting instrument is giving accurate readings. "Root zone soil moisture is one of the most important pieces of information for understanding how ecosystems function, and how the water, energy, and carbon cycles are regulated around the globe," says Moghaddam.