NASA launches Landsat 9 satellite from Vandenberg, aims to monitor impacts of climate change

The satellite lifted off on United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 3E at 2.12 pm Eastern Time, after which the Landsat 9 observatory was segregated from the vehicle.

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On Monday, NASA’s Landsat 9 satellite was successfully launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The satellite will be monitoring the Earth’s land surface and present data for climate change planning. The satellite is performing as expected, said NASA in a statement.

The satellite lifted off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 3E at 2.12 pm Eastern Time, after which the Landsat 9 observatory was segregated from the vehicle.

The launch continues to extend 50 years of Landsat proximity in space. The first launch was in 1972; since then, a Landsat has always prevailed within the orbit. Landsat 9 will be joining the earlier launched Landsat 8 to accumulate images of the Earth every eight days. NASA said that these images help in researching monitoring forests, agriculture, quality of water, the health of coral reef territories, and glaciers.

“As the impacts of the climate crisis intensify in the United States and across the globe, Landsat 9 will provide data and imagery to help make science-based decisions on key issues including water use, wildfire impacts, coral reef degradation, glacier and ice-shelf retreat, and tropical deforestation,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

NASA, in a statement, said that the Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI-2) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS-2) instruments on Landsat 9 would be able to obtain data across 185 km with sufficient specification to allow the identification of unique crop fields in the US.

“The instruments aboard 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, in the visible spectrum as well as other wavelengths beyond what our eyes can detect. As the satellite orbits, these instruments will capture scenes across a swath of 185 kilometres. Each pixel in these images represents an area about 30 meters across, about the size of a baseball infield. At that high a resolution, resource managers will be able to identify most crop fields in the United States,” NASA said in a statement, adding that this was a joint mission with the US Geological Survey.

The recent launch is of significance during the time of increased awareness and campaigns of climate change incidents and natural disasters like wildfires, floods and melting of glaciers. US Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted that Landsat 9 will aid in estimating the impacts of climate change.

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