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Space Science Technology

Landsat's First Images Show Rocky Mountains In Stunning Detail 63

Zothecula writes "We haven't heard anything from NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) spacecraft since its launch in February, but the satellite is now ready to start sending its first images back home. The first batch of photos are part of a three-month testing period, and show the meeting of the Great Plains with the Front Ranges of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Colorado. Viewed from space, it's already a pretty spectacular scene, but the images from the LDCM managed to enhance it even further."
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Landsat's First Images Show Rocky Mountains In Stunning Detail

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  • Do those pictures significantly augment our understanding of what Earth mountains are like?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      No, but it augments our knowledge of where the hemp and coca plantations are.
    • You are probably correct, the military satellites have a ton of data, but it never hurts to have another. In addition, this data will be released to the public: "data from OLI and TIRS will be processed and added to the Landsat Data Archive at the Earth Resources Observation and Science Center in South Dakota, where it will be distributed for free over the Internet."
    • by gabereiser ( 1662967 ) on Monday March 25, 2013 @12:55PM (#43272807)
      It's just they are higher detail and more refined than previous efforts.
      • by ProzacPatient ( 915544 ) on Monday March 25, 2013 @01:39PM (#43273433)
        When are they going to come out with a satellite that will let me inspect the gravel in my driveway?
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          They were going to launch it last Thursday, but scrubbed the launch due to weather at the launch site. Unfortunately, they missed the narrow launch window where you both your car was not in the driveway and your bushes were trimmed. Satellites with an perigee altitude of 3 ft are vulnerable to local traffic patterns and neighbors' pets, so launch windows are very rare and narrow. There is hope they can try again in 12 years when there is a grand alignment between your mailbox, lawn chair and BBQ.
        • I got modded as troll. I guess the mods don't have a sense of humor, or the trolls happen to have the mod points today.
    • by Reverand Dave ( 1959652 ) on Monday March 25, 2013 @01:03PM (#43272917)
      Landsat images are used by a variety of government agencies for things like flood hazard mapping and water usage analysis. High resolution Landsat images can help the forest service determine where to search for search and rescue or mete out prescribed burns. The actual value of these images is pretty important and yes it can help augment our understanding of mountainous topography. That is pretty much what is so special about it since the old landsat satellite was recently retired and the new images we're getting are so much better than the last ones.

      First hand knowledge here.
      • Plus I thought that higher resolution images means that the quantitative analysis has more precision and accuracy. Now they can quantitate the land-mass that is covered by vegetation of type-A vs. type-B based on differences in visible and infrared absorption/reflectivity, and they can quantitate changes over time of vegetation and of wetlands and dry-lands/deserts with more precision.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yup, the instruments on board typical spy satellites and imaging satellites (e.g. geoeye) are designed to just take sharp pictures in the visible for mapping and object detection. The landsat instruments are lower resolution over a wider band (visible through thermal IR), and are designed to provide data for agriculture, geology, forestry, regional planning, education, mapping, and global change research (from the landsat about page).... so yes.. it does significantly augment our understanding of what Ear

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      It proves the system works, you dunce.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      These multispectral images are a lot more useful for finding where you stoners are growing your pot.

      • by cusco ( 717999 )
        I live in Washington, I can grow it in my front yard if I want to! Of course then I'd have the neighbor kids stomping through the iris bed, so it has to stay inside.
        • by chihowa ( 366380 )

          I live in Washington, I can grow it in my front yard if I want to! Of course then I'd have the neighbor kids stomping through the iris bed, so it has to stay inside.

          This is a picture of Colorado. We can grow it in our front lawns here, too!

        • by PPH ( 736903 )
          This will help the stoners find your front yard.
    • by Remus Shepherd ( 32833 ) <remus@panix.com> on Monday March 25, 2013 @03:27PM (#43274815) Homepage

      These pictures continue our 40-year record of watching the Earth. Because Landsat has such a complete record, we gain a lot of understanding about how the Earth changes with the seasons and over time. LDCM will enable us to continue that record out into the future. So yes, these pictures will help a lot.

      Disclaimer: I work on the LDCM project, and in fact I created that first PR image. It's a shame they chose Colorado because the OLI (Operational Land Imager) instrument was built there. We are looking at some stunning images, and the new data this instrument is collecting will knock scientists' socks off for years to come.

      • by rk ( 6314 )

        Heard a rumor you took at least one really cool picture of the moon with it too. Can you confirm or deny?

        • The first Lunar image was yesterday (3/26). It's pretty cool from a calibration standpoint, but don't expect to ever see that image. It's not meant for public consumption, and most people wouldn't consider it a very good snapshot of the moon. It's stretched and the image is small so not many details can be seen. As a calibration source, however, it's exactly what we wanted.

      • How do these images compare to the absurdly high resolution images provided by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter? The PR images look fairly small scale.

        It's always struck me a bit odd that we seem to have vastly higher resolution pictures of Mars from space than we do of Earth; and Earth's, like, right here...

        • HiRISE has 0.3 meter resolution, so about 100x that of the Landsat sensors. However, HiRISE only has three bands -- green-blue, red, and a near-IR band. The new LDCM satellite has 12 bands, so it collects a lot more spectral information.

          Spatial resolution is easy. Spy satellites have had absurd spatial resolution for decades. Spectral bandwidth is hard.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Monday March 25, 2013 @03:46PM (#43275003) Homepage

      Something others didn't mention is that this is SATELLITE data, not data from aerial photos.

      When you look at Google Maps "satellite" view you are likely looking at a photo taken by a plane. Obviously it is much easier to get a high-resolution photo of a house from a plane a mile or two up than from a satellite 350 miles up.

      Satellite photos have the advantage of being easier to acquire more regularly. The satellite flies over the country every day whether you need a photo or not. It will never be able to compete with a photo taken from a plane, let alone one taken from the ground. These are technologies that solve different problems.

      There is definitely a use for regular civilian satellite images of the entire Earth's surface.

    • No, but they show we're getting better at incrementally and usefully augmenting our ability to discern and watch changes in, for example different flora and how they fare - useful data indeed relating to their overall health, water management, degree of susceptibility to wildfire, blight and other microbial and insect predations, and a raft of stuff I don't know about or have forgotten. That's just the plants part. I'm old enough to remember when the first Landsats were put up; data returned was eye-openi

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday March 25, 2013 @12:58PM (#43272859)

    Why not add a link to the actual images on NASA's stie, instead of a fucking link to some ad/tracking/whoring site like Gizmodo?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      You mean like the second link in the summary to nasa.gov? I'm assuming you didn't bother to RTFAs.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nasa's own website is more timely as well - images were posted last Friday on Earth Observatory's Image of the Day.


    • GizMag is *NOT* Gizmodo.....
  • Build Your Own (Score:5, Interesting)

    by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Monday March 25, 2013 @01:51PM (#43273593) Journal
    An engineer at Orbital Sciences created a 1/48th scale paper model of the landsat satellite that you can print, build and hang above your cubicle for nerd cred.

    Printable model here [google.com].
    Assembly Instructions here [google.com].

    It actually looks pretty cool... not that I'll be spending two hours building it myself.
  • Should we go in and attack?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Should we go in and attack?

      They're mostly harmless.

  • I guess that John Denver wasn't so full of shit after all, man.

  • Yet somehow I remain unstunned.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"