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Advanced weather satellites launched.

Summary: A European satellite is set to provide major new insights into how water is cycled around the Earth.

A European satellite is set to provide major new insights into how water is cycled around the Earth.

The Smos spacecraft will make the first global maps of the amount of moisture held in soils and of the quantity of salts dissolved in the oceans.

The data will have many uses but should improve weather forecasts and warnings of extreme events, such as floods.

A Russian Rokot launcher carrying Smos lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia on Monday morning.

Jean-Jacques Dordain, director-general of the European Space Agency, said: "This is not just a satellite.This is a very important event. This is the second of our Earth Explorers and with that we confirm that ESA is the space agency of the world making the best efforts for Earth science and a new understanding of climate change."

Smos carries a single instrument - an interferometric radiometer called Miras. Some 8m across, it resembles helicopter rotor blades.

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:Nov 3, 2009
Words:199
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Advanced weather satellites launched.
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