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SMOS: an earth explorer mission to observe ocean salinity with a novel technology

AuthorsFont, Jordi ; Boutin, Jacqueline; Reul, Nicolás; Spurgeon, Paul; Delwart, Steven; SMOS Ocean Salinity Team
Issue Date2011
PublisherMercator Ocean
CitationMercator Ocean Quarterly Newsletter 42: 3-11 (2011)
AbstractSMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity), launched on November 2, 2009, is the first satellite mission addressing sea surface salinity measurements from space. Its unique payload is MIRAS (Microwave Imaging Radiometer using Aperture Synthesis), a new two-dimensional interferometer designed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and operating at the microwave L-band. This paper presents the characteristics of the instrument, a summary of the sea surface salinity retrieval from SMOS observations and shows initial results obtained one year and a half after launch. The pioneer nature of this mission, both from the technological and data processing points of view, implies many challenges that require continuous improvements even the mission was declared operational in May 2010. At present there are still several issues being addressed by the SMOS team, mainly related to low level data processing but also to the retrieval of salinity from radiometric measurements, which prevent by now from reaching the mission objectives in terms of salinity accuracy. However, realistic salinity maps have been obtained and preliminary validation tests against in situ data indicate we are approaching our goals. SMOS will be a milestone in the route for incorporating salinity to operational remote sensing
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