The latest in the Landsat series of Earth observation satellites, Landsat 8, officially began its mission on May 30. The purpose is to extend an unparalleled four-decade record of Earth’s land surface as seen from space. NASA launched the Landsat Data Continuity Mission satellite on February 11. Since then, NASA mission engineers and scientists, with USGS collaboration, have been putting the satellite through its paces – steering it into its orbit, focusing the instruments, calibrating the detectors, and collecting test images. Now fully mission-certified, the satellite will be transferred to USGS operational control and renamed Landsat 8. The specs:
The technical capabilities of Landsat 8 move forward in three areas in comparison to Landsat 7: increased spectral coverage; higher data precision (the ultimate resolution is not changed); and increased quantity of data collection (60% more scenes per day).
Landsat 8 will orbit Earth once every 99 minutes at an average altitude of 438 miles (705 kilometers), repeating the same ground track every 16 days. As Landsat 8 joins Landsat 7 in imaging the Earth, researchers and natural resource managers will once again be able to receive Landsat data every eight days for any given location. Many Landsat users depend on a short repeat cycle for prompt data on resources such as agricultural crops, forests, and water. The USGS, NASA, and aerospace contractors have worked diligently to ensure that Landsat 8 would be operational in time for the 2013 North American growing season.
The Landsat program is a joint effort between the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA. Read more HERE