Space | 12. February 2013

Landsat 8 – into space on Carnival Monday

For over 40 years, the US Landsat series of satellites has been delivering multispectral and thermal imaging data of the entire planet at a consistent high quality. As a consequence, the Landsat data archive has become an important tool for Earth remote sensing. It has helped to visualise long-term changes on the ground, to explore the influence of mankind on the biosphere and to manage natural resources.

Landsat 8, the newest member of the Landsat family, was launched on 11 February 2013. To highlight the global character of this mission, NASA invited a large number of international guests to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for the launch of this new satellite on board an Atlas 5 carrier rocket. Germany is also an important partner in this programme; Patrick Hostert from Humboldt-Universität Berlin was appointed a member of the ‘International Landsat Science Team’ in October 2012.

DLR is also making significant contributions to the Landsat programme. The German Remote Sensing Data Center (Deutsche Fernerkundungsdatenzentrum; DFD) in Neustrelitz has been supporting the Landsat mission with the reception, processing and intermediate storage of data. Furthermore, the data is processed into information products and distributed to users. An important addition to the Landsat programme is the German hyperspectral satellite mission EnMAP.

The successful launch of the new Landsat mission on Carnival Monday delighted more than just the spectators who watched the rocket fly into the blue sky over California. The scientists on the Landsat programme can now look forward to a further five to 10 years of data – the estimated operational life of the newly-launched satellite. As experience with satellites has shown, forecasts of this nature can occasionally prove to be wrong. Landsat 5, launched back in 1984, was designed for a three-year mission, but was not actually decommissioned until December 2012, after more than 28 years of operational service. Landsat 8 is intended to take its place.



Source: DLR/Thilo Kranz (CC-BY 3.0).