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NASA Space Science

Landsat 8 Satellite Successfully Launches Into Orbit 28

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the looking-inward dept.
New adosch writes "The Landsat Data Continuity Mission is now in orbit, after launching Monday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Calif. After about three months of testing, the U.S. Geological Survey will take control and the mission, renamed Landsat 8, will extend more than 40 years of global land observations critical to energy and water management, forest monitoring, human and environmental health, urban planning, disaster recovery, and agriculture." We still need more new observation satellites to avoid losing Earth observing capabilities as the work horses of the NASA/USGS fleet die of old age.
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Landsat 8 Satellite Successfully Launches Into Orbit

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  • Do these satellites have the ability to deorbit? Or when they die do they become more permanent space junk?

    • by decsnake (6658) on Monday February 11, 2013 @11:47PM (#42868193) Homepage

      Low orbit satellites like this one are deorbited. Either they have to be designed for a controlled reentry into the ocean or be demisable, that is to completely disintegrate on reentry. Designing for dismisability is tough. You have to limit the size of all hard parts, and the harder they are the smaller the maximum size is. Off the top of my head, a titanium part can't be be bigger tham 2cm square, but aluminum can be 10cm square. Composites can be larger still.

  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Monday February 11, 2013 @09:03PM (#42867291)

    These satellites are used for water management, agriculture and many other things that are vital infrastructure. As an example, my state uses LandSAT data to estimate water use by using the thermal maps LandSAT produces and from this can make fairly accurate predictions of actual water use and resulting draw down of critical reservoirs.

    It's also a huge issue as right now there is going to be a gap of about 2 years when one of the sats dies and before it's replacement gets up and it's going to get worse as more of the aging sats die. This is one of those aspects of government spending that is critical in many ways and will be severely damaged by government spending cuts. The amount of money these programs occupy is miniscule compared against their benefit.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @10:28PM (#42867751)

      While a gap in coverage is a problem, having the replacement in orbit before failure is (arguably) more important for calibration. Without sets of images of the same things at the same times from both satellites, it's impossible to know the exact differences between the older and newer data. For example, the shades of color indicating plant health.

      Sure, you have a good idea as to what those differences might be from the designs, but the only real test is to put the satellite into orbit.

    • my state uses LandSAT data to estimate water use .. and from this can make fairly accurate predictions of actual water use and resulting draw down of critical reservoirs.

      This sounds really important.

      This is one of those aspects of government spending that is critical in many ways and will be severely damaged by government spending cuts. The amount of money these programs occupy is miniscule compared against their benefit.

      Let's say, hypothetically that nobody shows up for Treasury auctions anymore except for

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Playing with tapes from EROS on the Cray/CDC machines at U of Mn in the early 70s. Great fun.

  • Billions of dollars and they last five years. Something tells me that if Washington got out of the satellite business entirely, weather.com and partners would launch a sat with a 20 year service life that cost less than $100 million.

    Then, the Google Earth crew would look at the Google Fiber team and say "if they can offer 700 mbps for $70, what can we do with satellites?" Maybe they'd launch a rocket carrying 50 mini-sats that together provided ten times better coverage than the 1960s style Landsats
    • by Omestes (471991)

      Then companies took it to 700000000 bps, after building the web atop the old gopher-carrying net.

      Using lines laid with public dollars, and protected with limited monopolies. Also, often building off research done at public universities, with government grant money.

    • by cusco (717999)
      Yes, if we just get all that useless government out of the way of the benevolent corporations we could all be living the life of the Jetsons in no time. Back to the glorious economy of the Victorian era! By all the gods, what kind of frelling hellhole of a world do you want to live in?
    • by sjames (1099)

      The web was not invented by private corporations. Without the special right of way grants, the corporate world wouldn't have been able to do anything with the internet. Without the DARPA work, the internet would closer resemble Tymenet and Compu$erve and yes, you would likely have to pay for it by the minute. There would likely be 3 competing services, all incompatible and with no hope of interconnection. Each would reserve the right to remove any content they didn't like from their servers. YOU wouldn't ha

      • So what you're pointing out is that Compuserve et al provided email, live chat, et. years before darpa had the brilliant idea that one military base could dial another with a modem. Further, you say, Compuserve was competing with Tymenet, Prodigy, etc. to see who could provide the best services at the best price. Becuase most internet technology was all invented by private companies, the government should run more things. Did I get that right?

        Hmm, you did mention walled gardens, a phrase normally appl
        • by cusco (717999)
          to see who could provide the best services at the best price.

          No, that's not what he said at all, and that's not what was happening at all. Those of us who were old enough to actually be there remember how the big companies were carving out exclusive territories with the gleeful cooperation of the Baby Bells. In northern Michigan my one choice was AOL unless I was willing to pay per-minute long distance charges ($0.24/minute IIRC) in addition to the per-minute online charges ($0.05/minute). Even after
        • by sjames (1099)

          Actually, no. Compu$serve et. al. had long stagnated. They were quite expensive. Email started on the ARPANET which predated compuserve. They were indeed competing, but competition failed to create anything like the value and utility that DARPA created by fiat. They were far from first, they were just made available to the general public sooner while ARPANAT was confined to government and universities. Once Internet connectivity was opened to all, it was game over for the expensive slow, tightly metered, a

  • But having said that:

    For 2013, Russia has pledged to spend more than 7 times NASA's budget on space.

    What is our government doing?

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