The launch gantry is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite aboard at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. SMAP will provide global measurements of soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. Photo by NASA’s Kim Shiflett.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
When we think about space missions, we tend to look toward the stars to planets like Mars where robotic rovers roam, gathering data and sending it back to Earth. Rarely do we think about missions closer to home. But a view of Earth from 426 miles above is helping us monitor droughts, predict floods, improve weather forecasts and assist with crop productivity.
This year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched a new satellite called SMAP (Soil Moisture Active-Passive) with the help of a team that included U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hydrologist Susan Moran at the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Southwest Watershed Research Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona, and physical scientist Wade Crow and hydrologist Thomas Jackson at ARS’s Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. Read more »
Until recently, there was no readily-available public data showing the entry points of U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico, modes of transportation, or how product were used at their final destination. Now, a USDA partnership with Texas A&M scientists provides insight into the movement of products from the U.S. to Mexico. Photo by Michael Matalis.
Driving down a rural road, admiring the expansive fields of corn and soybeans, I stopped at a rail crossing to wait for what seemed like an endless train of cars filled with grain. My idle mind wondered, where are all those tons of grain headed, where was its final destination? For anyone else, it may just be curiosity. But for me and those who work in my division within USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), it’s our job to answer those questions.
We understand that for stakeholders within the agricultural industry—farmers, grain mill operators, shippers and exporters—the answers are critical. Sound business decisions require knowledge about what is happening with the transportation of agricultural products, both in the domestic and international marketplace. Read more »