Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA – Liftoff has occurred for the latest Landsat satellite mission.
Fueling operations have begun and the tower rolled away for today’s launch of the latest NASA Landsat satellite. Liftoff, scheduled for a 48-minute launch window, has begun.
According to Al.com, the Landsat program began in 1972, and this launch is its eighth. Landsat data is used in forest monitoring, human and environmental health, and disaster recovery, according to NASA.
The Landsat-8 mission began its travel to infinity and beyond on an Atlas rocket from the US Air Force base at Vandenberg.
The spacecraft is planned to maintain the longest continuous image record of the Earth’s surface as viewed from space, making it one big camera.
According to BBC News, NASA project scientist, Dr. Jim Irons states:
“Landsat is a critical asset. Land cover and land use are changing now at rates unprecedented in human history due to an increasing population, advancing technology and shifts in the climate. In order for us to adapt to these changes and make sensible decisions about what we do to the surface of the planet, we need the information this satellite series gives us.”
The entire image archive expected to span 40 years is open and free. Scientists around the globe use the imaging information in several ways. They can monitor the health of crops and the status of volcanoes as well as measure city growth.
Landsat-8 will operate alongside Landsat-7, which has sufficient fuel to keep working three more years.
In the Landsat-7, the satellite uses mirrors that sweep back and forth across the field of view. This builds an image on a relatively small set of detectors. The pushbroom technology on Landsat-8 eliminates the mirrors and relies instead on a larger collection of detectors.
Dr. Jim Irons comments about the technology improvement:
“We call it pushbroom because it is like pushing a big broom of detectors across the ground track.”
So, basically it takes a larger picture, which any art editor can tell you is an advantage.
Are you excited to see what images the latest Landsat satellite is capable of?
— NASA Kennedy / KSC (@NASAKennedy) February 11, 2013