The launch of NASA's Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) mission atop a ULA Delta-II rocket from SLC-2W at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA on Jan 31, 2015. The $916 million "Earth Science" mission will measure soil moisture and surface freeze/thaw from space, helping scientists' efforts to further understand the Earth as a fully integrated system. Understanding the  many factors that cause climate change will help build more accurate long-term forecasts for everything from severe weather to severe droughts.  

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