DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado continues to venture into new frontiers.

On Thursday NASA will launch a first-of-its-kind satellite into orbit, and Colorado has a key role in the mission. The information collected over a three-year orbit by the satellite, which is known as SMAP (soil moisture active passive), will be invaluable to the state.

“We’re in a state that goes through various drought periods, which affect so many aspects of our lives,” said Amanda Leon, Data Management Lead with the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The satellite will help scientists quickly and accurately measure moisture in the soil, helping to predict when weather events like flooding or droughts will occur.

“This is going to be one more piece of information that weather forecasters can use to help gauge the impact of severe weather events,” Leon said.

It’s something Colorado is all too familiar with.

“It’s going to hit close to home for the people here, it really will,” said Longmont resident Austin Braun, who will be attending the launch.

Austin Braun talks with CBS4's Karen Morfitt (credit: CBS)

Austin Braun talks with CBS4’s Karen Morfitt (credit: CBS)

Braun, 19, spent four days covering the launch of Orion in Cape Canaveral after being chosen by NASA to cover the event on social media. Now he’s been chosen by NASA again to attend the SMAP launch.

Braun says he has more of a connection with the goal of this mission because he endured the flooding Longmont experienced in 2013 and he sees how important agriculture is in everyone’s daily lives.

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“With this one all the information that has come in says it’s really going to change how meteorology is predicted,” Braun said.

Braun will be one of 70 people who were chosen across the world to cover the satellite launch.


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