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Earth Science

JPL Says SMAP Radar Failure = Normal Operations

By Keith Cowing
September 2, 2015
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JPL Says SMAP Radar Failure = Normal Operations

SMAP Radar Fails But Mission Continues
“Mission managers for NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory have determined that its radar, one of the satellite’s two science instruments, can no longer return data. … The SMAP spacecraft continues normal operations and the first data release of soil moisture products is expected in late September. “Although some of the planned applications of SMAP data will be impacted by the loss of the radar, the SMAP mission will continue to produce valuable science for important Earth system studies,” said Dara Entekhabi, SMAP Science Team lead at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. On July 7, SMAP’s radar stopped transmitting due to an anomaly involving the radar’s high-power amplifier (HPA).”
Keith’s note: Wow. JPL is sure spinning this bad news on this $915 million mission. That’s almost a billion dollars. The radar was at the core of SMAP’s mission i.e. “one of the satellite’s two science instruments”. It failed. Sure, other stuff still works but that radar broke after only a few months. But JPL PAO wants you to think that “The SMAP spacecraft continues normal operations.” So, I guess radar failure is considered “normal”?

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