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SMOS captures Asian Storms

ESA's SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) mission has been measuring wind speeds for several recent storms in Asia. This includes Typhoons Nari and Wipra along the east Pacific as well as Cyclone Phailin in the North Indian Ocean. 

Although not originally designed for this, SMOS can use its microwave sensor to measure wind speeds, using the fact that the microwave reflections depend on the waves and whitecaps caused by strong winds. The microwave measurements made by SMOS do not depend on having cloud free skies, and so can be used to measure surface winds under a storm. The SMOS team hope that this method can be used for future operational storm forecasting. 

For more information, see this news story on ESA's website.