NASA and USDA work together to study soil moisture

USDA and NASA have a long history of cooperation. They are currently researching growing food in space for long journeys, but they have been working much longer on soil moisture studies.

The data NASA pulls from imagery of Earth shows brightness and how reflective the Earth’s surface is, but that information is not valuable to ag on its own.

So, USDA is gathering soil moisture and temperature data on the ground to see if there is a correlation with NASA’s data and to see if NASA could accurately measure those statistics from above.

According to USDA’s Chief Meteorologist, Mark Brusberg, “Getting actual values helps the NASA folks calibrate their products for soil moisture... They’re trying to get approximation of how much moisture is really there for farmers and ranchers to work with, then you have to go to the ground and say ‘how did we do?’”

The effort could help prevent more flooding by showing where to plan reservoir releases ahead of further wet conditions.


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