The soil moisture and ocean salinity (SMOS) satellite and the Proba-2 satellite have been encapsulated within the Russian Rockot launch vehicle, which will be carrying them into space.

The SMOS will be European Space Agency’s (ESA) second Earth explorer in orbit after the gravity field and steady-state ocean circulation explorer satellite launched in March 2009.

Known as the water mission satellite, SMOS will provide the data to help produce global maps of soil moisture at least every three days and global maps of sea-surface salinity averaged over 30 days.

Information from SMOS will improve weather and climate models and will be applied in agriculture and resource management.

The data on sea-surface salinity will advance knowledge on ocean circulation patterns and their role in the climate system.

Proba-2 is the second in ESA’s project for onboard autonomy series, which carries about 17 technology developments and four scientific experiments that focus on solar and space weather.

Proba-2 has been mated to the Breeze-KM, the upper stage of the Russian Rockot, and sealed from view by the SMOS launch adapter.

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In launch configuration, Proba-2 sits underneath the SMOS satellite, for injection into orbit after SMOS.

The satellites are due for launch on 2 November 2009.