As If We Need a Reason to Party

celebrating landsat 8

Valentine’s Day a Little Early

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, NASA is giving all of us remote sensing geeks a great big present. The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), aka Landsat 8, is scheduled to be launched February 11, 2013 at 10:02 a.m. (PST). Knock on wood and cross your fingers for a successful launch (Landsat 6 was lost at just such a moment)…To help in the celebration, NASA has put together party planning resources and activities for all.

Highlights include:

  • Watch the launch live on NASA TV
  • Designs for building and launching your own rocket!
  • Print out and fold your own LDCM
  • Make your own “Earth as Art” with Landsat imagery
  • Join their Facebook page
  • Plus tons of links to educational material and resources all about Landsat and its uses

nasa landsat data continuity mission

Why Do We Care?

The Landsat Program has been collecting imagery since 1972. I wrote a little about Landsat 5 in a blog a while ago. That was a true workhorse! Landsat 7 is still operating, but has its own problems. For long-term, continuous measurement of the Earth’s surface, a new sensor was badly needed. The data provided by this new launch will allow the long-term measurement and monitoring at national scales (yet still regionally relevant) to continue. We hope to see the first operational data rolling off around 90 days after launch.

Some Techy Stuff

The new Landsat has a couple improvements worth pointing out:

  • It is a push-broom type sensor, which means fewer moving parts and less to fail
  • 12-bit quantization = more potentially useful spectral data
  • Cirrus band = to help id clouds in other bands
  • Narrower pan-chromatic band than previous Landsat, which can lead to cleaner imagery at the higher 15m resolution and may improve pan-sharpening efforts
  • Up to 400 scenes collected per day–an improvement of 150

However you choose to mark this event (or not), know that the successful launch of this sensor will mean many more years of monitoring imagery and derived, high-quality, regional land cover data that can be used to support improved decision making.

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