NASA and USGS release stunning first images of the new Landsat 9 spacecraft – .

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NASA and USGS release stunning first images of the new Landsat 9 spacecraft – .


Mangroves are important along the northwest coast of Australia. The first image collected by Landsat 9, on October 31, 2021, shows mangroves grouped together in creeks and protected bays on the shores of the Indian Ocean. Fluffy cumulus clouds and high altitude cirrus clouds hover nearby. The turquoise colors of the shallow waters near the shore give way to the deep, dark blues of the ocean. Credit: NASA

Landsat 9, a joint mission between Nasa and the US Geological Survey (USGS), launched on September 27, 2021, has collected its first light images of the Earth.

The images, all acquired on October 31, are available online. They provide insight into how the mission will help people manage vital natural resources and understand the impacts of climate change, adding to Landsat’s unprecedented data log that spans nearly 50 years of observation. of Earth from space.

“The first Landsat 9 images capture critical observations of our evolving planet and will advance this joint NASA and US Geological Survey mission that provides critical data on Earth’s landscapes and coastlines as seen from space.” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This program has the proven power not only to improve lives, but also to save lives. NASA will continue to work with the USGS to strengthen and improve accessibility to Landsat data so that policymakers in America – and around the world – better understand the ravages of the climate crisis, manage agricultural practices, conserve valuable resources and respond more effectively to natural disasters. “


Animation of the Landsat 9 probe orbiting the Earth, passing over the western United States and Baja California. The satellite will travel at 7.5 km / second, circling the globe every 99 minutes at an altitude of 705 km (438 miles). Landsat 9 will image a swath 185 km (115 miles) wide and perform approximately 14 orbits each day, thus imaging every part of the Earth every 16 days. Credit: Goddard Space Flight Center / NASA Conceptual Imagery Lab

These bright first images show Detroit, Michigan with nearby Lake St. Clair, the intersection of towns and beaches along a shifting Florida coastline, and footage of Arizona’s Navajo Country to add to the richness. data to help us monitor crop health and manage irrigation water. The new images also provided data on the changing landscapes of the Himalayas in the high mountains of Asia and on the coastal islands and shores of northern Australia.

Landsat 9 is similar in design to its predecessor, Landsat 8, which launched in 2013 and remains in orbit, but features several improvements. The new satellite transmits data with higher radiometric resolution to Earth, allowing it to detect more subtle differences, especially over darker areas like water or dense forests. For example, Landsat 9 can differentiate more than 16,000 shades of a color of a given wavelength; Landsat 7, the satellite being replaced, only detects 256 shades. This increased sensitivity will allow Landsat users to see much more subtle changes than ever before.

“First light is a big step for Landsat users – it’s the first chance to really see the kind of quality that Landsat 9 offers. And they’re fantastic, ”said Jeff Masek, NASA’s Landsat 9 project scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “When Landsat 9 works in coordination with Landsat 8, it will be this wealth of data, allowing us to monitor changes on our home planet every eight days. “

Landsat 9 carries two instruments that capture images: the Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI-2), which detects visible, near-infrared and short-wave infrared light in nine wavelengths, and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS -2), which detects thermal radiation in two wavelengths to measure Earth’s surface temperatures and its changes.

These instruments will provide Landsat 9 users with essential information on crop health, irrigation use, water quality, severity of forest fires, deforestation, glacial retreat, urban expansion. , etc.

“Landsat 9 data and imagery expand our ability to see how the Earth has changed over decades,” said Karen St. Germain, director of the Earth Sciences division at NASA headquarters in Washington. “In a changing climate, continuous and free access to Landsat data and other data from NASA’s Earth Observation fleet helps data users, including city planners, farmers and scientists, plan for the future. ‘to come up.

NASA’s Landsat 9 team is conducting a 100-day verification period that involves testing the satellite’s systems and subsystems and calibrating its instruments in preparation for handing over the mission to the USGS in January. The USGS will operate Landsat 9 along with Landsat 8, and together the two satellites will collect approximately 1,500 images of the Earth’s surface each day, covering the globe every eight days.

“The incredible first images from the Landsat 9 satellite provide insight into the data that will help us make scientific decisions on key issues, including water use, the impacts of forest fires, the degradation of coral reefs, the retreat of glaciers and ice floes and tropical deforestation. USGS Acting Director Dr. David Applegate said. “This historic moment is the culmination of our long partnership with NASA on the development, launch and initial operations of Landsat 9, which will better support environmental sustainability, climate change resilience and economic growth, while developing a unprecedented record of Earth’s changing landscapes. “

NASA and USGS Landsat 9 Image Gallery

Landsat 9: Capture a wide range of data. Credit: NASA / USGS

Landsat 9 carries two instruments designed to work together to capture a wide range of wavelengths: the Operational Land Imager 2, or OLI-2, which detects nine different wavelengths of visible light, near infrared and wavelength infrared. short; and the thermal infrared sensor 2, or TIRS-2, which detects two wavelengths of thermal radiation to measure slight changes in temperature. Data from both instruments is displayed in the two pairs of this image.

The upper left corner shows snow and glaciers in the Himalayan mountains, leading to the flat Tibetan plateau to the north. The upper right corner shows the same area in the thermal data of the TIRS-2 instrument. The blue-white color indicates relatively cooler surface temperatures, while the orange-red indicates warmer surface temperatures.

The lower left corner shows the brown and green rectangles of agricultural fields in southern Ontario, sandwiched between Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. The white and gray rectangles at the bottom of the image are production greenhouses, which appear as bluish (relatively cooler) spots in the TIRS-2 image to the right.

Landsat 9: Western Australia. Credit: NASA / USGS

The first image collected by Landsat 9 on October 31, 2021 shows isolated coastal islands and coves in Western Australia’s Kimberly region. In the upper central part of the image, the Mitchell River carves out the sandstone, while on the left, Bigge Island and the Coronation Islands stand out in the Indian Ocean. Australia is a major international partner in the Landsat 9 program and operates one of the Landsat Earth Network stations in Alice Springs.

Landsat 9 : Nation Navajo

Landsat 9: Navajo Nation. Credit: NASA/USGS

In the western United States, in places like the Navajo Nation, as shown in this Landsat 9 image, Landsat and other satellite data helps people monitor drought conditions and manage irrigation water. . With just 85 rain gauges to cover over 27,000 square miles, satellite data and climate models are filling the gaps to help the Navajo Nation monitor the severity of the drought.

Landsat 9: Himalayas

Landsat 9: Himalayas. Credit: NASA/USGS

The city of Kathmandu, Nepal, seen in the lower left of this Landsat 9 image, sits in a valley south of the Himalayan Mountains between Nepal and China. Glaciers and lakes formed by glacial meltwater are visible at the top middle of this image. In high mountain Asia, many communities depend on meltwater from glaciers – and Landsat can help track the evolution of these glaciers in a warming climate. Previous studies with Landsat have documented the shrinking of the Himalayan glaciers, as well as the change in lake levels on the adjacent Tibetan Plateau. As of October 31, 2021, the first day of data collection for Landsat 9.

Landsat 9 : Panhandle de Floride

Landsat 9: Florida panhandle. Credit: NASA / USGS

The white sands of Pensacola Beach stand out in this Landsat 9 image of the Florida panhandle in the United States, with Panama City visible under popcorn-like clouds. Landsat and other remote sensing satellites help track changes on America’s coasts, including urban development and the potential impacts of sea level rise. As of October 31, 2021, first day of data collection for Landsat 9.

Landsat 9: Detroit and Lake Erie

Landsat 9: Detroit and Lake Erie. Credit: NASA / USGS

Sediments swirl in Lakes Erie and St. Clair in this Landsat 9 image of Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, from October 31, 2021. The Great Lakes serve as sources of fresh water, recreation, transportation, and habitat for the upper midwestern United States, and water quality remains a high priority. During the warmer months, Landsat 9 observes swirls of green algae that can develop into harmful algal blooms. Landsat 9 will be able to help scientists and resource managers identify these blooms early, by identifying areas for further testing.

Landsat 9 data will be made available to the public, free of charge, on the USGS website once the satellite begins to operate normally.

NASA is managing the development of the Landsat 9 mission. Teams from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, also built and tested the TIRS-2 instrument. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, handled the launch of the mission. The USGS Land Resource Science and Observation Center (EROS) will operate the mission and manage the ground system, including maintenance of the Landsat archive. Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, built and tested the OLI-2 instrument. United Launch Alliance is the rocket supplier for the launch of Landsat 9. Northrop Grumman in Gilbert, Arizona, built the Landsat 9 spacecraft, integrated it into instruments, and tested it.

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