NASA’s Landsat 8 Project Officially Handed Over To USGS Control
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
NASA´s Landsat 8 mission will continue under the control of the US Geological Survey (USGS), after a ceremony in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Thursday officially saw the reins being handed over from one agency to the other.
“Landsat is a centerpiece of NASA’s Earth Science program,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a statement from Washington. “Landsat 8 carries on a long tradition of Landsat satellites that for more than 40 years have helped us learn how Earth works, to understand how humans are affecting it and to make wiser decisions as stewards of this planet.”
Landsat 8 was successfully launched on February 11, 2013, from California´s Vandenberg Air Force Base with a goal of continuing a long tradition of Earth observations from seven previous satellite missions as part of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM).
The handing over ceremony marks the beginning of No. 8´s mission to extend a four-decade-old program of monitoring Earth´s landscape from space. Since the satellite´s launch, NASA mission engineers and USGS-certified scientists have been testing the satellite´s capabilities on a preliminary scale. Now, more than three months later, after all test experiments have checked out, the USGS has full operational control of Landsat 8.
Starting today, mission operators with USGS will collect no less than 400 images per day from around the world to be processed and archived at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science Center in Sioux Falls. Landsat 8 will join Landsat 7, which has been operating in orbit since 1999. The USGS has collected and provided more than 11 million images from Landsat to the public — via the Internet — free of charge since 2008.
“We are very pleased to work with NASA for the good of science and the American people,” said US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell from Washington. “The Landsat program allows us all to have a common, easily accessible view of our planet. This is the starting point for a shared understanding of the environmental challenges we face.”
Landsat 8 will continue to allow scientists to observe the world with great detail, monitor changes across the landscape both under natural and human causes, and detect critical trends in the conditions of the world´s natural resources.
The Landsat mission will be able to document volcanic eruptions, glacial retreat and forest fires. It can provide time lapse images of expanding cities, crop irrigation and forest clear-cutting. The mission is a “sustained effort by the United States to provide direct societal benefits across a wide range of human endeavors including human and environmental health, energy and water management, urban planning, disaster recovery, and agriculture.”
Landsat will circle the Earth 14 times per day. It will utilize two observation instruments that are updated improvements over its predecessors´ equipment. For more information on Landsat 8 and the overall mission, visit NASA’s Landsat website.