University of Montana Professor John Kimball has been working for ten years on a project called “SMAP” or Soil Moisture Active Passive. Specifically, Kimball has been working on an algorithm that can turn information gleaned from a NASA Satellite into usable data. Kimball explains what SMAP can do.

"We've been a contractor for NASA for many years," Kimball said. "We generate global environmental data records from a variety of satellites for the monitoring of vegetation over the globe, monitoring the global water cycle, vegetation stress, environmental effects on agricultural productivity, and forest range productivity monitoring as well."

All of Kimball’s hard work will be put to use after NASA launches a new satellite later this month.

"We wrote the software here at the University of Montana and tested it, and then we took those algorithms and that software, and we've integrated it into the mission possessing system over at Goddard," Kimball said. "The launch will occur January 29, and then, after a three month, what is called an in-orbit check-out period, we'll actually start to see data come through this processing system."

When in orbit, the Satellite will use emit microwaves to measure the moisture in th top two inches of the Earth’s crust. It will be able to map the entire globe every two to three days.