Monday, August 23, 2021

50 Years of Landsat

Landsat 9 is scheduled to launch next month. The very first Landsat satellite was launched on 23 July 1972. Since that time Landsat satellites have captured millions of images of the Earth. These images provide an invaluable resource for Earth sciences, helping scientists in disciplines as diverse as agriculture, cartography, geology, forestry, regional planning, surveillance and education.

To celebrate the launch of Landsat 9 and to mark a half century of Earth observation NASA has launched a scrollytelling presentation called Landsat 9 - Continuing 50 Years of Eyes on our Changing Planet. The presentation explores some of the many uses of Landsat satellite imagery. These uses include tracking urban sprawl, studying environmental change and tracking changes in agriculture. The article includes many examples of the images captured by Landsat satellites and how they are being used to track deforestation, glacial retreat and shrinking ice-caps. 

Towards the end of the presentation there is an interesting overview of some of the scientific equipment which will be part of Landsat 9. These include an Operational Land Imager (used to capture imagery and near infrared and shortwave infrared), a Thermal Infrared Sensor (used to monitor the amount of heat emitted by the Earth) and data storage equipment. 

You can explore Landsat historical satellite imagery for yourself using Landsat Lens and Google's Timelapse, both of which allow you to search historical satellite imagery by location and by date. The Earth Observing System's Land Viewer application also allows you to browse and download historical satellite imagery from the Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8 satellites.

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