NASA launches Landsat 9 Earth observation satellite
- A NASA satellite was successfully launched on September 27 from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
- The earth monitoring satellite, Landsat 9, is a joint mission of NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS).
- Landsat Program is a series of Earth-observing satellite missions jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.
- The first Landsat satellite was launched in 1972.
- Since then, Landsat satellites have collected images of our planet and helped understand how land usage has changed over the decades.
- The satellites have been used to track urban sprawl, monitor the effects of climate change, and see how deforestation affects the surrounding landscape.
- In 2008, it was decided that all Landsat images will be free and publicly available and the policy has helped scores of researchers, farmers, policy analysts, glaciologists, and seismologists.
- Landsat images have been used to study the health of forests, coral reefs, monitor water quality and melting glaciers.
Unique features of Landsat 9
- The Landsat 9 joins Landsat 8 that was launched in 2013.
- Landsat 9 carries instruments similar to the other Landsat satellites, but it is the most technologically advanced satellite of its generation.
- It can see more colour shades with greater depths than the previous satellites, helping scientists capture more details about our ever-changing planet.
Instruments aboard Landsat 9
- The instruments aboard the satellite are the Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI-2) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS-2).
- They will measure different wavelengths of light reflected off the Earth’s surface.
- OLI-2 can see the light that we can’t see too.
- It captures sunlight reflected off Earth’s surface and studies the visible, near-infrared, and short wave infrared portions of the spectrum.
- TIRS-2 has a four-element refractive telescope and photosensitive detectors that capture thermal radiation and help study the Earth’s surface temperature.
- As the satellite orbits, these instruments will take pictures across 185 kilometers and each pixel will represent an area of about 30 meter X 30 meter.
- With these satellites working together in orbit, we’ll have observations of any given place on our planet every two days.