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A change detection algorithm has been developed in order to obtain high-resolution soil moisture estimates from future Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) L-band radar and radiometer observations. The approach combines the relatively noisy 3-km radar backscatter coefficients and the more accurate 36-km radiometer brightness temperature into an optimal 10-km product. In preparation for the SMAP mission, an observation system simulation experiment (OSSE) and field experimental campaigns using the Passive and Active L- and S-band Airborne Sensor (PALS) have been conducted. We use the PALS airborne observations and OSSE data to test the algorithm and develop an error budget table. When applied to four-month OSSE data, the change detection method is shown to perform better than direct inversion of the radiometer brightness temperatures alone, improving the root mean square error by 2% volumetric soil moisture content. The main assumptions of the algorithm are verified using PALS data from the soil moisture experiments held during June-July 2002 (Soil Moisture Experiment 2002) in Iowa. The algorithm error budget is estimated and shown to meet SMAP science requirements.