NASA doesn’t study just the stars and planets. It is also concerned with the soil beneath your feet. Studying the moisture in the top two inches of the soil from space with a satellite named SMAP can help weather forecasters predict flash floods, farmers grow more crops, and communities plan for drought.

Video Transcript

Did you know the soil under your feet contains some of the most important water on Earth? And keeping track of this soil moisture is an important mission for NASA.

Think of soil as a sponge. It can absorb a lot of water but will eventually become full. Or it can dry out as the water evaporates.

Knowing when the soil is getting too dry helps us plan for droughts, prepare for food shortages, and identify places where wildfires can spring up.

Knowing when the soil is too wet and can’t absorb more rain, helps us better predict floods and landslides.

The best way to monitor soil moisture is not from the ground. It’s from space! So NASA does this with special instruments orbiting high above us.

Tracking soil moisture from space helps us improve weather forecasts and climate models. And it helps farmers know when to plant, water and harvest their crops.

Everyone on Earth benefits from the study of soil moisture. It’s one case where NASA dishing the dirt is good for all of us.