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Landsat Data Continuity Mission Launched !

by Santosh Singh

The latest in the series of Landsat satellites the LDCM, Landsat Data Continuity Mission was launched today from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This satellite continues the four decades old legacy of the Earth Observation from space.

The first Landsat satellite launched in 1972. The joint program between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey is the longest-running data record of Earth observations from space. The latest launch continues that legacy. Landsat 8 will circle Earth about 14 times each day from 438 miles above our planet, beaming back images of Earth’s landscape and polar regions. It will image the entire Earth every 16 days.

The satellite provides resolution down to about 100 feet, meaning you could see something like a football field. The Landsat program enables scientists to track major changes of Earth’s surface, including melting glaciers, urban explosion and the effects of natural disasters. Landsat also helps with the management of wildfires, allowing scientists to map and monitor vegetation and fire trends and better understand the results once a fire has passed. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency also uses data from the satellites as part of a flood mitigation program.

Atlas V rocket launching the LDCM. Screengrab of NASA webcast.

The latest mission, commissioned in 2002, had a tortuous birth. NASA originally intended to buy data from a privately owned satellite, then formulated a plan to mount Landsat sensors on a separate set of polar-orbiting satellites. Only in 2005 did the administration of then-president George W. Bush call for an independent craft, formally known as the Landsat Data Continuity Mission.

Images from the Landsat satellite series show the Aral Sea in central Asia shrinking significantly from 1977 to 2010 because of water diversion for agricultural use. Courtesy: USGS EROS DATA CENTER

Landsat 8 has the ability to capture a 185 km swath of Earth and is meant to provide a regional and national scale view of our planet with a full picture of the planet’s surface every 16 days. Among the advancements are:

  • up to 400 scenes collected per day, improving on the past 150-scene capacity
  • a push-broom sensor to minimize moving parts and reduce failure points
  • a new short-wave infrared band to help identify clouds
  • a narrower pan-chromatic band to provide cleaner imagery at the 15m resolution
  • new sensors to provide “ultra-blue” capacity to better study oceans and atmospheric aerosols

Learn more about LDCM from here


SATPALDA is a privately owned company and a leading provider of satellite imagery and GeoSpatial services to the user community. Established in 2002, SATPALDA has successfully completed wide range of photogrammetric and Remote Sensing Projects.

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