The Aquarius measurements are considerably coarser in spatial resolution than the measurements from the upcoming NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission, which was specifically designed to provide the highest quality soil moisture measurements available, including a spatial resolution 10 times that offered by Aquarius.
Soils naturally radiate microwaves and the Aquarius sensor can detect the microwave signal from the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of the land, a signal that subtly varies with changes in the wetness of the soil. Aquarius takes eight days to complete each worldwide survey of soil moisture, although with gaps in mountainous or vegetated terrain where the microwave signal becomes difficult to interpret.
"There's a lot of precipitation data in our country, but outside the U.S. and
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