NASA this week successfully launched its Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM). An Atlas V rocket was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 1:02 pm EST on Monday, February 11.
The new satellite will be used, as previous Landsat satellites have, to monitor the earth's climate and geography. It is the eighth satellite in the Landsat series that has been observing the Earth since 1972. The LDCM's Operational Land Imager (OLI) will collect data in visible and infrared spectrums, while its Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) will collect data on the heat emitted from the surface of the Earth.
"Landsat is a centerpiece of NASA's Earth Science program, and today's successful launch will extend the longest continuous data record of Earth's surface as seen from space," said Charles Bolden, NASA administrator. "This data is a key tool for monitoring climate change and has led to the improvement of human and biodiversity health, energy and water management, urban planning, disaster recovery, and agriculture monitoring - all resulting in incalculable benefits to the U.S. and world economy."
The satellite deployed its solar arrays 86 minutes after launch. It is currently powering up and will enter a sun-synchronous polar orbit within two months. During the next three months the satellite will be put through its paces during a check-out phase. After that, control of the LDCM will be transferred to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
"LDCM is the best Landsat satellite ever built," said Jim Irons, a LDCM project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "The technology will advance and improve the array of scientific investigations and resource management applications supported by Landsat images. I anticipate new knowledge and applications to emerge with an increasing demand for the data."