NASA delays soil study satellite launch for 'repairs'

January 30, 2015
The United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory onboard at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

NASA has pushed back the launch of a satellite to study soil moisture to Saturday, so that it can perform "minor repairs" to the launch rocket.

"The of NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory, which will produce the highest-resolution maps of ever obtained from space, has been delayed to a targeted launch date of January 31," the US space agency said on its website.

NASA said that repairs to minor "de-bonds" in the rocket's booster insulation are needed before a launch, which had been set for early Friday.

The new target launch time is Saturday at 9:20 am (1420 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

An earlier launch planned for Thursday was scuttled because of windy weather.

The high-resolution maps that SMAP returns to scientists should help prepare for the future in which severe weather like droughts and storms are expected to become more frequent, by giving experts better tools to forecast how crops and forests will change as the planet warms.

Explore further: Weather delays NASA launch of satellite to study soil

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