NASA’s Landsat has tracked environmental changes for over five decades, and now the organization has launched its latest model.
FREMONT CA: NASA last week powered its most awaited Landsat-9 satellite. The Landsat program is very successful and popular within the global aerospace community since its launch five decades ago for tracking environmental changes.
The latest addition to this program, Landsat-9, is expected to image our entire planet within 16 days, together with its predecessor, Landsat-8. The satellites will track every environmental change on Earth, including those induced by the ongoing climate crisis. NASA's Landsat program has been accountable for accurate recording of various megacities, tracking changes in agricultural patterns, forests, coastlines, desserts, and polar ice caps. The reports generated by the satellites play a critical role in studying the behavioral changes in flora, fauna, and several water bodies. Back in 2015, while the development of Landsat-9 commenced, NASA's former associate administrator for science, John Grunsfeld, highlighted that Landsat satellites have been providing valubale data that has helped humanity progress forward.
The Landsat-9 satellite was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on 27th September on an Atlas Rocket. Though NASA built and launched the satellite, US Geological Survey will be operating it. Landsat-9 is accompanied by four smaller cubesats or miniature satellites that will be orbiting in the lower orbits, complimenting the satellite's observations. Two of those cubesats will study solar wind and exoplanet atmosphere for NASA, and the remaining two are on confidential missions on behalf of the US Space Force.
Landsat-9 replicates its precursor Landsat-8 to decrease the build time and risks of the gap in operations. Its lifecycle cost is approximately $1 Billion, which is substantially higher than that of other commercial alternatives. Landsat-9 consists of two critical instruments that have moderate spatial resolutions and the capabilities to detect a higher range and intensity than the Landsat-8. Scientist Northrop Gruman, who designed the satellite, will be assisting in its operations.