Northrop Grumman’s deployable satellite reflector and boom assembly will be used in Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to aid it in mapping soil moisture and freezing and thawing cycles.

JPL’s soil moisture active/passive SMAP mission will employ a combined radiometer and high-resolution radar to measure soil moisture and freeze/thaw state to understand regional and global water cycles, ecosystem productivity and the processes that link water, energy and carbon cycles.

Astro Aerospace, the business unit of Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector general manager Richard Nelson said that the SMAP mission is critical to understanding the health of the Earth’s ecology.

“We are proud of our successful history of teaming with JPL on multiple planetary missions going back as far as Voyager to the outer planets and more recently to Mars,” Nelson said.

The AstroMesh-Lite configuration to be used in JPL is a 6m aperture that will provide high-resolution data to improve weather and climate forecasts, flood prediction and drought monitoring and measurement of net carbon dioxide uptake in forested regions.

The satellite will be launched into space in 2014.