Thursday, 30 April 2015

The hangar

Photo credit: Monash University

The aircraft team have arrived to find all their equipment waiting. With much enthusiasm everything was unpacked and set up ready for the first validation flight.

PLMR is in the background undergoing a routine calibration in readiness for the big day!

Post by: Prof Jeffrey Walker, Monash University, Australia

Now it's official

Photo credit: Monash University

Tom Jackson, the NASA Cal/Val Team Leader has arrived in town to issue his seal of approval to Australia's field validation experiment. Traveling with him are several USDA and NASA JPL/GSFC associates. Welcome Team USA!

Post by: Prof Jeffrey Walker, Monash University, Australia

The air crew

Jeff Walker and Ying Gao ready to take off.

The air crew have tested and double tested everything, and all equipment is set to go. It is a lovely day for the ferry flight up to the study area.

Post by: Prof Jeffrey Walker, Monash University, Australia


The stragglers always have the biggest bags! And by this time there is no room left. Anyone would think we are going for a month. Guess who's? And it is not the person wheeling it .

Post by: Prof Jeffrey Walker, Monash University, Australia

Packing, packing, packing ...

Photo credit: Monash University

The cars are loaded, trailers attached, and the crew from Monash are gathered ready to head off to the "outback" of country NSW.

Post by: Prof Jeffrey Walker, Monash University, Australia

Final preparations

After months of careful planning and buying/borrowing/building/testing sampling equipment, the day has come to pack the last few remaining items and head to the field.

Ye Nan and Xiaoling Wu are checking to see what they have left behind before they close the door on their office for the coming month.

Post by: Prof Jeffrey Walker, Monash University, Australia

All hands on deck

Photo credit: Jeff Walker

As we count down to the time where everyone descends on Yanco it is all hands on deck; even my kids have to help. Here Josiah is putting the finishing touches on a spare "remlet" for the airborne team.

Post by: Prof Jeffrey Walker, Monash University, Australia

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Buggy platform tested and ready to go

The new Monash buggy-based sensing platform for large scale soil
Photo credit: Monash University
moisture sensing is set up and ready to go. This is in collaboration
with Forschungszentrum J├╝lich (Germany), UPC/BarcelonaTech (Spain) and University of Southern Queensland (Australia).
The buggy will be used to make an intercomparison of near-surface soil
moisture measurements from our portable Hydraprobe Data Aquisition
System and soil moisture measurements derived from an L-band radiometry
system known as ELBARA III, a GNSS reflectometry system known as LARGO,
TIR and other optical bands in the visible to shortwave infrared bands,
EM38 and EMI. We are also planning to compare with a COSMOS Rover system
of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, Australia) if it arrives in time.

Post by: Prof Jeffrey Walker, Monash University, Australia

Saturday, 25 April 2015

SMAPEx Team ready for liftoff

With the SMAP commissioning phase almost completed, the SMAPEx-4 Experiment is ramping up for the teams arrival on 30th April to undertake the first SMAP validation experiment. Things are getting very exciting!!

In readiness the temporary stations and radar calibrators have been installed this week. And fortuitously we got a good amount of rainfall last weekend bringing soil moisture levels from near zero up to around 0.4 to 0.5v/v. Over the past week this has dried to between 0.2 and 0.3v/v with further rain expected this weekend. In any case, we now have some very interesting soil moisture patterns to explore!
Top 0-5cm soil moisture from SMAPEx stations in the Yanco core site (for daily updates on the soil moisture conditions, please check:

Apart from the pasture sites with typical autumn time grass conditions, the cropping fields are mostly bare soil, and either being worked for planting or have recently been seeded. This gives a nice base of low crop conditions/bare soil which will be contrasted against the much more mature crops we anticipate in SMAPEx-5.

Only one more week until we start sampling!!

Post by: Prof Jeffrey Walker, Monash University, Australia

Friday, 24 April 2015

Welcome to the SMAPEx-4 field campaign blog!

This blog is intended to give live updates on progress of the SMAPEx-4 field campaign near Narrandera NSW Australia. This is the 4th in a series of Soil Moisture Active Passive Experiments ( in support of the SMAP mission ( launched by NASA on 31st January 2015 for global measurement of soil moisture at 10km spatial resolution. The first three field campaigns were focussed on development and validation of pre-launch downscaling algorithms using airborne simulations of the SMAP data stream; this campaign is focused on validation of these algorithms with actual SMAP data. This will be the first real demonstration of how successful the SMAP mission is to map soil moisture at such high resolution. Please keep coming back to see how we are going.

Post by: Prof Jeffrey Walker, Monash University, Australia