Monday, November 02, 2009

Russia launches duel Canadian satellites today

A Russian Space Agency rocket successfully carried duel science payloads into a dark, foggy sky today and up into orbit, including a European satellite which will study the earth's soil and water values over the next few years.

The Canadian Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) science satellite and the Project for Onboard Autonomy (Proba-2) launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia aboard the Rockot ballistic missile at 1:50:01 UTC this morning (8:50 pm EST on November 1st).

Seventy minutes into the launch, the SMOS was the first to separate from the Rockot's upper stage known as Breeze KM at an altitude of 470 miles. The Breeze stage then manuvered into a lower orbit and at T+3 hours following launch, the Proba-2 then separated completing a successful launch.

SMOS will study future climate changes from it's perch in low earth orbit over the next three years. According to Canadian space officials, "(SMOS) is the first ever satellite designed both to map sea surface salinity and to monitor soil moisture on a global scale. It features a unique interferometric radiometer that will enable passive surveying of the water cycle between oceans, the atmosphere and land".

Meanwhile, the Proba-2 science payload is a multi-useful microsatellite carrying a set of four science intruments to study the Sun; a high technology camera with a wide angle view of about 120º; and test small sensors for future European Space Agency satellites.

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