Revitalizing the Landsat Legacy

Landsat, Launch, Satellite, orbitAt over forty years, old, the Landsat program is the oldest satellite photo operation in the world. Since the program began in July 13, 1972, it has launched 7 satellites (6 successfully) capturing millions of images of the Earth below.

In accordance with advanced mathematics, the last satellite was named Landsat 7 and launched in 1999. While Landsat 7 is still operational, a few of its components have begun to fail, and for the past few years scientists have been hard at work on its successor, Landsat 8.

That successor launches today, from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. Riding to space aboard a rocket, it will be the most powerful satellite ever to look down on planet Earth.

Landsat, Launch, Satellite, orbitLandsat 8’s new components will,of course allow it to capture more detailed images than its predecessors, but it also benefits from advanced new sensors. Like its predecessors, Landsat 8 will be equipped cameras that can measure all spectral bands.  Landsat 8 also includes the ability to monitor coastal zones and cirrus clouds.

Once it reaches orbit, engineers at NOAA will begin a two-week testing and calibration process, after which it will rendezvous with Landsat 7 to remotely link the two systems.

Shortly thereafter, Landsat 8’s first images will reach mission control. Landsat 8 is designed to last for five years, but considering Landsat 7’s track record, it’s been given enough fuel for ten, and could be overhead for decades to come.

Images Courtesy of Wikipedia & NASA