February 10, 2013
Landsat Launch Is A Go For Monday
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
NASA has given the Landsat mission a go for launch on Monday, during which the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) spacecraft will ride aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket towards its orbit.
So far, the liftoff is scheduled for 10:02 a.m. (PST) on Monday, assuming weather conditions prove to be favorable.
This satellite is the eighth in a series that began in 1972, aimed at extending the more than 40 years of global land observations.
The launch will be taking place from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. NASA said there will be a 48-minute launch window open.
The LDCM is a joint NASA and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) mission, which holds the longest continuous data record of Earth's surface as viewed from space.
"For decades, Landsat has played an important part in NASA's mission to advance Earth system science. LDCM promises to extend and expand that capability," said Michael Freilich, director of the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "USGS's policy of offering free and open access to the phenomenal 40-year Landsat data record will continue to give the United States and global research community a better understanding of the changes occurring on our planet."
LDCM will be situated in a polar orbit, circling the Earth about 14 times daily from an altitude of 438 miles. After launch, LDCM will be renamed to Landsat 8, during which the USGS will assume operational control of the satellite.
"The Landsat program provides the nation with crucial, impartial data about its natural resources," said Matthew Larsen, USGS associate director for climate and land use change in Reston, Va. "Forest managers, for instance, use Landsat's recurring imagery to monitor the status of woodlands in near real-time. Landsat-based approaches also now are being used in most western states for cost-effective allocation of water for irrigation. This mission will continue that vital role."
The latest satellite's sensors utilize an oscillating mirror, using long arrays of detectors across the focal plane of each instrument. During its passes over the Earth, it will be observing and collecting image data over a large swath of land. As the Earth rotates beneath LDCM, it will help to provide a complete picture of the planet's surface every 16 days.
After a successful launch, Landsat 8 will be sending data to both NASA and the USGS for scientists to use for years to come.