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NASA Space Science

Landsat 8 Satellite Successfully Launches Into Orbit 28

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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  • 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.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"