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California Polytechnic State University
NASA launches Earth-observing satellite
NASA launches Earth-observing satellite

A NASA satellite lifted off early Saturday on a three-year mission to track the amount of water locked in soil, which may help residents in low-lying regions brace for floods or farmers prepare for drought conditions. A Delta 2 rocket carrying the Soil Moisture Active Passive -- or SMAP -- satellite launched shortly before sunrise from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's central coast. As the rocket zoomed skyward, it gave off an orange glow. It'll take some time before project managers know if the satellite successfully separated from the rocket and unfurled its solar panels to start generating power. "I'm extremely eager" to start the...

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