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Soil moisture is one of the most important hydrological variables that characterizes the land surface water and energy balance. Measurements from space suffer from the problem of subpixel heterogeneity, i.e., soil moisture has spatial variability at all scales; therefore, it is important to realize the exact physical implication of the single value of the satellite measurements. In this paper, we study the sensitivity of C-band passive microwave brightness temperatures to various land surface variables. The issue of heterogeneity and its role in interpretation of single spatially averaged value of satellite brightness temperature is investigated. Finally, we use the brightness temperatures from the Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer to characterize spatial variability and to understand the variation of this variability with scale.