US launches Earth observation satellite (Update)

Feb 11, 2013
A launch pad tower is rolled back to reveal the Atlas-V rocket with Landsat Data Continuity Mission spacecraft on February 11, 2013, at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The United States launched its latest Earth observation satellite Monday.

The United States launched its latest Earth observation satellite Monday atop an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, NASA said.

The Landsat Data Continuity Mission was the latest in a line of satellites used to continuously gather imagery from space of the Earth's land surface, coastal areas and coral reefs.

"Everything is looking good, and the engine is operating normally," a NASA announcer said after the rocket roared off its launch pad at 1702 GMT.

Once in orbit, the satellite will be turned over to the US Geological Survey.

The satellite is the eighth in a series to be launched beginning in 1972, that have been instrumental in tracking the changing face of planet.

It is designed to have a minimum five year life span, although it is fueled for a 10 year run in space, orbiting the Earth about 14 times a day from an altitude of 438 miles (705 kilometers).

Its powerful sensors will gather 400 "screens" of the planet a day and relay them for storage in ground base archives where they can be accessed by anyone.

The accumulated data allows specific sites to be compared over periods of months, years or decades, providing what NASA says is "the longest record of the Earth's continental surfaces as seen from space."

NASA scientists say the sensors aboard the latest spacecraft, which joins the Landsat 7 satellite, will allow for observations that are more sensitive to change in the landscape over time.

"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," said Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division.

Explore further: Total lunar eclipse before dawn on April 4th

Related Stories

Eighth Landsat satellite arrives at launch site

Dec 20, 2012

An oversized semi-trailer truck carrying NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) has arrived at its launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in preparation for launch. This NASA and U.S. ...

Launch delayed for satellite to watch space debris

Jul 06, 2010

(AP) -- The launch of a new U.S. Air Force space surveillance satellite has been delayed due to a software problem in a rocket similar to the one that will lift the satellite into orbit.

Recommended for you

Total lunar eclipse before dawn on April 4th

19 hours ago

An unusually brief total eclipse of the Moon will be visible before dawn this Saturday, April 4th, from western North America. The eclipse happens on Saturday evening for Australia and East Asia.

Cassini: Return to Rhea

Mar 30, 2015

After a couple of years in high-inclination orbits that limited its ability to encounter Saturn's moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned to Saturn's equatorial plane in March 2015.

Comet dust—planet Mercury's 'invisible paint'

Mar 30, 2015

A team of scientists has a new explanation for the planet Mercury's dark, barely reflective surface. In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that a steady dusting of carbon from p ...

It's 'full spin ahead' for NASA soil moisture mapper

Mar 30, 2015

The 20-foot (6-meter) "golden lasso" reflector antenna atop NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory is now ready to wrangle up high-resolution global soil moisture data, following the successful ...

What drives the solar cycle?

Mar 30, 2015

You can be thankful that we bask in the glow of a relatively placid star. Currently about halfway along its 10 billion year career on the Main Sequence, our sun fuses hydrogen into helium in a battle against ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.