Launch Pad: Landsat 9 continues nearly 50-year legacy

Each month, in our new Launch Pad series we will cover notable spaceflight missions set to liftoff soon. What’s up next? The Landsat 9 launch, currently scheduled for September.

Next month, Landsat 9 will launch, continuing almost a 50-year legacy of documenting our changing world.

The satellite will liftoff in a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and will be put in a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 438 miles above the Earth.

It will join Landsat 8 in Earth orbit, and together they will be able to image nearly the entire globe in just eight days! On its own, Landsat 9 will image almost all the Earth in only 16 days.

According to NASA, the newest Landsat satellite will add over 700 images of Earth’s surface a day to the existing data-rich Landsat archives!

The satellite is designed and manufactured by Northrop Grumman, and will carry two scientific instruments to conduct its mission. The first is the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2, which will capture heat measurements of the Earth’s surface. The second is the Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI-2), new and improved from its predecessor OLI, to yield better Earth observations.

Landsat 9 is a joint mission between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

What will Landsat 9 do?

The newest Landsat satellite will build upon the previous Landsat missions, adding to an existing and extensive database that has drastically shaped how humans see and understand planet Earth!

Since the mission began with the first Landsat launch in 1972, the data that has been acquired through subsequent satellite launches has led to numerous discoveries and has been used by many different governments, organizations, and researchers to inform policy decisions and best land use practices.

Landsat images can show everything from retreating glaciers to crop fields, growing urban centers to deforestation, and the impact of natural disasters.

The data can be used to help:

  • Manage wildlife and natural resources
  • Prepare for natural disasters
  • Visualize the impact of urban expansion on the environment
  • Monitor coral reef health across the globe
  • Keep a record of retreating glaciers
  • See and understand how climate change is affecting our planet

Ultimately, these assessments can lead to improved international policies, regulations, and planning that will serve to better protect our planet.

Fun Facts:

Check out these fun facts about Landsat 9 from NASA!

Learn more about Landsat 9 here.

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