LANDSAT-9: NASA's Latest Earth Observation Satellite In Orbit.

Landsat 9, a NASA satellite designed to monitor the Earth's land surface, successfully launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 2:12 p.m. EDT Monday, 27th Sept., 2021. 

Landsat 9 was launched from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 3E on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket as part of a cooperative mission with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). 

Around 83 minutes after launch, the Svalbard satellite-monitoring ground station in Norway received signals from the spacecraft. 

As it approaches its ultimate orbital height of 438 miles, Landsat 9 is operating as anticipated (705 kilometers). 

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, "NASA utilizes the unique assets of our own unparalleled fleet, as well as the equipment of other countries, to study our own planet and its climatic systems." 

“Landsat 9 will take this historic and important worldwide initiative to the next level, with a 50-year data bank to build on. We are excited to collaborate with our colleagues at the USGS and the Department of the Interior on Landsat Next again, since we never stop striving to better understand our planet.” 

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said, "Today's successful launch is a major milestone in the nearly 50-year joint partnership between USGS and NASA, who have partnered for decades to collect valuable scientific information and use that data to shape policy with the utmost scientific integrity." 

Landsat 9 will offer data and images to assist make science-based choices on critical problems such as: 

    1. water usage, 
    2. wildfire effects, 
    3. coral reef degradation, 
    4. glacier and ice-shelf retreat, 
    5. and tropical deforestation as the consequences of the climate crisis increase in the United States and across the world. 

In 1972, the first Landsat satellite was launched. 

Since then, NASA has maintained a Landsat satellite in orbit to gather pictures of the physical stuff that covers our planet's surface, as well as changes in land use. 

Researchers may use these pictures to track agricultural production, forest size and health, water quality, coral reef ecosystem health, and glacier movements, among other things. 

Karen St. Germain, head of NASA's Earth Science Division in Washington, stated, "The Landsat mission is unlike any other." 

“Landsat satellites have been orbiting our globe for almost 50 years, giving an unmatched record of how its surface has altered across timeframes ranging from days to decades. 

We've been able to offer continuous and timely data for customers ranging from farmers to resource managers and scientists because to our collaboration with the USGS. 

In a changing environment, this data may help us comprehend, forecast, and prepare for the future.”

In orbit, Landsat 9 joins its sister spacecraft, Landsat 8. 

Every eight days, the two satellites will work together to gather pictures covering the whole globe. 

“When it comes to monitoring our changing globe, Landsat 9 will be our new eyes in the sky,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's assistant administrator for science. 

By collaborating with other Landsat satellites and our European Space Agency colleagues who run the Sentintel-2 satellites, we're obtaining a more complete view of Earth than ever before. 

We'll get observations of every given location on our globe every two days thanks to these satellites cooperating in space. 

This is critical for monitoring things like crop growth and assisting decision-makers in monitoring Earth's general health and natural resources.” 

The sensors on board Landsat 9 – the Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI-2) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS-2) – measure 11 wavelengths of light reflected or radiated off Earth's surface, including visible and non-visible wavelengths. 

These sensors will record sights over a 115-mile span as the satellite circles (185 kilometers). 

In these pictures, each pixel represents a 98-foot (30-meter) square, about the size of a baseball infield. 

Resource managers will be able to identify most agricultural fields in the United States at that resolution. 

“Launches are always thrilling, and today was no exception,” NASA Landsat 9 project scientist Jeff Masek said. 

“However, the greatest part for me as a scientist will be when the satellite begins providing the data that people have been waiting for, further cementing Landsat's legendary reputation among data users.”

The USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, analyzes and stores data from the sensors, adding it to the five decades of Landsat data. 

Since its debut in 2008, Landsat pictures and associated data have received over 100 million downloads thanks to this strategy. 

The Landsat 9 mission is overseen by NASA. 

The TIRS-2 instrument was also developed and tested at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 

The mission was launched by NASA's Launch Services Program, which is headquartered at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

The mission will be operated by EROS, which will also handle the ground system and maintain the Landsat archive. 

The OLI-2 instrument was developed and tested by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado. 

The launch of Landsat 9 will be carried out by United Launch Alliance. 

The Landsat 9 satellite was constructed, fitted with sensors, and tested by Northrop Grumman in Gilbert, Arizona. 

For additional information about Landsat 9, go to:

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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