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Soil Moisture Sensor (U)

Overview (U):

(U) The Army has a hard requirement for soil moisture determination down to 80 cm below the surface. A possible concept of operations is an L-Band radar that could provide the required data; however, its use is prohibited by the size of the instrument required. If nanosatellite technology makes flying this sensor from space feasible, estimated costs would be $120M for 2 satellites at $60M each with a 2011 IOC.

Description (U):

(U) Soil information is used for trafficability estimates; as an example, moisture in the 0-5 cm depth is important for surface traction, moisture from 5-10 cm impacts light armor vehicle speed, moisture from 10-30 cm can impact trafficability when more than one tank travels over the same terrain; moisture from 30-80 cm impacts large scale operations.

(U) The use of an L-Band radar that could provide the required data is prohibited by the size of the instrument needed: a 20 meter antenna at 800 km, which cannot simply be added to DMSP, NPOESS, or NEMSS. It will take a lot of work in micro- and nanotechnologies to make measurement of soil moisture from space a viable option. On the positive side, the Army doesn't need worldwide soil moisture measurements, only as required for planning and conducting operations. These sensors can be flown on a reconnaissance aircraft or a UAV and be tasked to provide needed soil moisture data.

(U) Deficiencies addressed are SID-5 and SID-27. Current capability to measure soil moisture is limited to detection of standing water. The proposed instrument has the potential to solve this significant problem. Again, soil trafficability would be valid inputs to wargame models and simulations, and serve as a proxy for a soil moisture measurement capability.

User Impact (U):

(U) To be supplied.

Programmatics (U):

(U) Concept/Technology.

Images (U):

(U) None.

Related Initiatives (U):
Improved Spectral ImagerImproved Spectral Imager
This Table Is Unclassified.

Related Requirements (U):None.

Related Categories (U):
Space-Based SensorsSpace Based Sensors
This Table Is Unclassified.

Road Map Placements (U):

This Table Is Unclassified.

Requirements, Funding and Additional Hotlinks (U):

(U) None.

Lead Office (U):

(U) Air Force.

Point of Contact (U):

(U) Maj Mike LaPointe, NSSA, Open Phone: (703) 325-6422, DSN 221-6422.
(U) National Security Space Road Map Team, NSSA, Open Phone: (703)808-6040, DSN 898-6040.

Date Of Information (U):

(U) 21 November 1997

(U) Road Map Production Date: 12 July 1999

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