The SMAP/GLOBE Partnership: Citizen Scientists Measure Soil Moisture

Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit

The GLOBE Program is a partnership in science and education that gives students and the public worldwide the opportunity to help researchers understand the global environment and climate. Focusing on K-12 schools, GLOBE connects students, teachers, scientists and other citizens from around the world, helping them conduct real, hands-on science in their communities. Its goal is to foster both science and environmental literacy worldwide.

GLOBE students learn about science through hands-on investigations in their own communities, sparking their curiosity and stimulating their interest in science, technology, engineering and math. GLOBE helps students play an active role in adding to what we know about our global environment and planet.

The GLOBE Program developed a soil moisture protocol that aligns with satellite measurements from the SMAP mission. The SMAP spacecraft takes measurements of surface soil moisture and produces daily maps of soil moisture, with global coverage every three days.

GLOBE students measure soil moisture at their local sites every day or as often as feasible. The recommended collection time is within a six-hour window (plus or minus three hours) from the time of satellite overpass at about 6 a.m. or 6 p.m., as determined by the SMAP Orbit Calculator Tool. Accordingly, teachers and students collect soil moisture samples between 3 and 9 a.m. or between 3 and 9 p.m. local time.

The final step in the monitoring process is logging onto a secure website and entering the data collected into a master database. Students and SMAP scientists can see the data on the GLOBE website, using them to validate soil moisture measurements by satellite.

The international GLOBE network has grown to include representatives from over 100 participating countries and over 100 U.S. Partners coordinating GLOBE activities that are integrated into their local and regional communities.

The SMAP mission is collaborating with the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program to develop sound scientific protocols for citizens to use in collecting local soil moisture data NASA satellite data.

SMAP Mission Video


Vision: A worldwide community of students, teachers, scientists, and citizens working together to better understand, sustain, and improve Earth's environment at local, regional, and global scales.

High Level Impact: 

Both parties benefit from the SMAP/GLOBE partnership. SMAP scientists give the GLOBE Program expert guidance on soil moisture protocols and measurement procedures. They also review the citizen science data and interact with the GLOBE community. Through the partnership, citizen scientists can engage with a NASA mission and learn how satellite information can improve our knowledge of the planet.

SMAP benefits from the ground-truthing measurements collected by GLOBE volunteers, which help support the SMAP calibration and validation program. Additionally, SMAP gets feedback from students on how soil moisture information can benefit local communities. The partnership also builds public awareness of and appreciation for the SMAP mission and for SMAP‘s high-quality data products.

As of June 30, 2015, 21 schools had submitted a total of 215 volumetric soil moisture measurements from 27 volumetric soil moisture sites. The schools were distributed across the following five GLOBE regions: Asia and Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, Latin America and Caribbean, Near East and North Africa, and North America.

Point of Contact: 

Ming-Ying Wei Email: