The European Space Agency’s soil moisture and ocean salinity (SMOS) mission satellite has successfully deployed its antenna arms into space after few orbits of the earth.

SMOS, the water mission satellite, will provide data to help produce global maps of soil moisture and global maps of sea-surface salinity to improve weather and climate models.

The antenna arms are part of a microwave imaging radiometer with aperture synthesis (MIRAS) instrument onboard the satellite, which is actually bigger than the satellite platform.

The deployment of the instrument, made up of a central hub and the three arms, is crucial for the mission as they carry the key measuring devices, most of the 69 small antenna receivers called LICEFs.

The LICEF antenna-receivers measures radiation emitted from Earth’s surface within the ‘L-band’, around a frequency of 1.4GHz to gain data on soil moisture and ocean salinity.

Like the very large array, the SMOS instrument also forms a Y-shape and through a process of interferometry the 69 small antenna receivers mimic a much larger antenna.

The satellite, launched on 2 November 2009, will undergo a series of health checks within its six-month commissioning phase.