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Atlas 5 rocket launches latest Landsat Earth observation satellite into orbit

An Atlas 5 rocket blasted off from California Monday and boosted a effective Landsat distant-sensing satellite into polar orbit. The $750 million mission will exchange an getting old, fewer highly effective satellite and allow continued, all around-the-clock observations of Earth and its ecosystem.

“Landsat is our longest lived land distant-sensing application,” explained Jeff Masek, Landsat 9 venture scientist at NASA’s Goddard House Flight Heart. “Considering that 1972, we have taken more than 9 million multi-spectral photos of Earth’s land and coastal regions. Working with this report, we can really document and understand the adjustments that have occurred to land atmosphere, both from human actions as nicely as normal activities.

“I consider of Landsat 9 as a Swiss military knife,” he reported. “It is one particular essential established of observations that feeds an complete vary of Earth science apps and exploration.”

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket carrying the Landsat 9 remote-sensing satellite for NASA and the U.S. Geological Study blasts off in hefty fog from Vandenberg House Pressure Base on the California coastline.


The experience to orbit began at 2:12 p.m. EDT when a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket roared to lifetime and thundered away from launch advanced 3 at Vandenberg Room Pressure Foundation on the coastline of California northwest of Los Angeles.

Driven by a Russian-created RD-180 1st stage motor making 860,200 lbs of thrust, the 194-foot-tall Atlas 5 majestically climbed absent from its start pad and arced to the south in excess of the Pacific Ocean on a trajectory tilted 98 levels to the equator.

A person hour and 20 minutes later, just after a 12-moment firing of the rocket’s Centaur second stage engine and a very long coast period, Landsat 9 was introduced to fly on its individual, heading for a 438-mile-high “sunshine-synchronous” orbit all around Earth’s poles.

These types of orbits are utilized by weather, reconnaissance and environmental monitoring satellites like Landsat 9 since they assure the spacecraft passes around any provided place at the similar regional time each day and with the very same lighting circumstances.

Data will be collected by two instruments. The Operational Land Imager, crafted by Ball Aerospace, is delicate to optical and around-infrared wavelengths and is able of resolving floor characteristics the measurement of a baseball diamond. The Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 actions surface area temperatures, with extreme precision, throughout places the sizing of a soccer discipline.

“The mixture of optical observations as properly as the thermal infrared give us a deep perception into lots of of Earth’s techniques,” claimed Karen St. Germain, director of Earth Science at NASA Headquarters.

“With Landsat, we can see not just the place there is vegetation, but we can also see what types of crops are increasing and their wellbeing and even estimate yields. And that all contributes to food stuff stability close to the globe.”

An artist’s impact of Landsat 9 in polar orbit.


Amassing optical and infrared information in 115-mile-broad swaths as the planet rotates beneath it, Landsat 9 will work in live performance with Landsat 8, introduced in 2013, to picture the total planet every eight days. Landsat 7, which the new satellite is replacing, will be retired right after 22 yrs of service.

“The standard occupation of Landsat is to track both equally human induced and organic improvements in the land natural environment and to much better support land management decision-making,” Masek mentioned.

“Landsat is used to appear at lengthy-expression trends and ecosystems, human land use and land deal with. Landsat is our most effective resource for knowing premiums of tropical deforestation as nicely as other forest dynamics like disturbances from hurricanes, wildfires and insect outbreaks as effectively as the restoration of those disturbances about time.”

The satellites enjoy a vital job monitoring agriculture, measuring drinking water consumption by crops and the transfer of drinking water to the environment, as perfectly as maintaining tabs on glacial ice, a vital issue in being familiar with sea degree increase.

Landsats 8 and 9, together with other environmental monitors, deliver primarily beneficial knowledge to farmers.

“Landsat data informs a wide vary of selections related to controlling crop wellness and drinking water methods,” St. Germain claimed at an previously briefing. “These are important decisions to mitigate international concerns like regional famine or foodstuff scarcity in an period of accelerating climate adjust.

“This knowledge (are) necessary to international help businesses, initial responders below in the United States, policymakers at every single stage, main agricultural producers and individual people today, from farmers and ranchers to urban planners.”

Landsat 9 was crafted by Northrop Grumman for NASA, which delivered system administration and arranged the start. At the time the spacecraft is checked out in orbit, the U.S. Geological Survey will choose more than satellite operations.

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