[Via Satellite 11-25-2014] Northrop Grumman has provided the AstroMesh reflector to Vandenberg Air Force Base for NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite. The device, which has a 19-foot aperture when deployed, will provide a conically scanning antenna beam covering a swath of 621 miles to map the planet every two to three days.
Northrop Grumman built the system to be extremely lightweight, weighing 125 lbs total. The SMAP reflector weighs 56 lbs, the stiff boom used to deploy the reflector and reduce spin-rate induced deflections, weighs 55 lbs, and the remaining launch restraint equipment adds the final 14 lbs.
The device will help SMAP to complete its three-year mission of mapping global soil moisture, determining if it is frozen or thawed to improve weather and climate prediction models and better understand the planet. The spacecraft is slated to launch into a 426-mile near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit, in January 2015.
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