In this podcast from the Planet Earth Online collection and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Richard Hollingham talks to Professor Meric Srokosz from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton about a new European Space Agency satellite, which was due to be launched on 2 November 2009. 

From onboard the RV Callista at the Southampton Boat Show, Srokosz explains how the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission satellite will use a technique borrowed from radio astronomy in its quest to measure salt content in the world's oceans.

A detailed knowledge of saltiness, or salinity to give it its technical name, is essential for understanding ocean currents. SMOS has a dual mission: it will measure both ocean salinity and the precise amount of water in soils around the Earth - necessary for accurate climate and weather forecasting. Richard also meets Dr Rupert Marshall and Millie Mockford of Aberystwyth University to find out why city-dwelling great tits sing a different song to their country cousins.

In a later report, Tamera Jones of Planet Earth online tells Richard about some of the top stories on the website, from why seals heat up when they moult, to the metabolic pathway-stealing antics of a giant virus, and why immigrants came from all over Europe, even in Roman times.

This podcast is dated 21 September 2009. NERC is a part of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) partnership of research councils.

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