The most up-to-date in NASA’s sequence of Landsat satellites – Landsat 9 – introduced this week, on September 27. It’ll carry on what is now a 50-year history of Landsat pictures and info, displaying Earth changes, acquired from Earth-orbit. So considerably, there are 9 million space visuals of our dwelling planet’s landscapes and coastlines in the Landsat collection. All are no cost to scientists to examine and comprehend. Landsat is NASA’s workhorse satellite sequence. Aloft considering the fact that 1972, these satellites have provided the longest-running ongoing file of what is taking place on Earth.
The Landsat sequence started on July 23, 1972, when NASA and the U.S. Geological Study (USGS) introduced the Earth Methods Technological innovation Satellite (ERTS-1) into orbit. They afterwards renamed it Landsat 1. It was the very first Earth-observing satellite introduced with the concept of checking Earth’s surface.
Since then, there has often been at the very least 1 Landsat satellite in orbit, wanting to Earth. These satellites consistently and persistently acquire world wide imagery. They’ve made a historical archive unmatched in high-quality, detail, coverage, and duration. The illustrations or photos enable scientists observe significant traits this kind of as agricultural productivity, forest extent and wellness, h2o top quality, coral reef habitat well being, and glacier dynamics. They show humanity’s distribute. After all, there are extra than two times as quite a few men and women on Earth now as there have been when the Landsat system started in 1972. All alongside, Landsat’s intention has been to give land managers and policymakers tools for making intelligent choice about Earth sources.
In December 2020, speaking with Alok Patel of PBS’s NOVA Now podcast, NASA challenge scientist Jeff Masek claimed:
When you expand up in an spot, you never definitely recognize the variations that occur around several years and a long time. But when you run the movie in rapid movement, abruptly we see all these adjustments: urbanization and improvements in forest administration, regions where by agricultural irrigation suddenly goes into desert environments.
The start of Landsat 9
The hottest satellite in the Landsat sequence, Landsat 9, launched this week on Monday, September 27, 2021. It’s the ninth in the Landsat application and will get the job done in tandem with Landsat 8 to obtain visuals, able to address the full earth just about every eight times. The satellite duo will help keep track of urban sprawl, forest address, and the retreat of glaciers, amongst other characteristics and phenomena. Technological know-how marches on, and so Landsat 9 is outfitted with two special devices expected to supply much better imaging than at any time right before.
The Operational Land Imager 2, or OLI-2, has an graphic swath 115 miles huge (185 km) with sufficient resolution to distinguish land address options like city facilities, farms, and forests. Just about every pixel in these photographs represents an space about 98 ft (30 m) across. At this resolution, unique properties aren’t distinguishable, but researchers can see massive human-made objects this sort of as highways.
The next instrument is the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2, also recognized as TIRS-2. It will evaluate land surface area temperature in two thermal infrared bands, working with quantum physics rules to measure infrared power emissions.
Putting Landsat to use
NASA was in demand of building and launching Landsat 9, although the U.S. Geological Study (USGS) will operate the satellite and method its info. All Landsat images and the embedded details are cost-free and publicly out there. It is resulted in far more than 100 million downloads given that it was created public in 2008.
Thomas Zurbuchen, affiliate administrator for science at NASA, claimed in a assertion:
Landsat 9 will be our new eyes in the sky when it arrives to observing our transforming earth. Functioning in tandem with the other Landsat satellites, as nicely as our European Room Agency companions who function the Sentinel-2 satellites, we are receiving a far more detailed look at Earth than ever before. With these satellites doing work together in orbit, we’ll have observations of any specified put on our planet each two times. This is exceptionally significant for tracking things like crop advancement and aiding decision-makers check the overall wellness of Earth and its normal resources.
Enjoy this movie for a Landsat street vacation by time.
Bottom line: The Landsat program delivers the longest ongoing place-based history of Earth’s land in existence. Just about every day, Landsat satellites offer necessary data to assist land supervisors and policy makers make smart decisions about our sources and our ecosystem.