How Landsat chronicled 50 years on a changing, burning planet | MarketingwithAnoy

Around 2030 became The Landsat program will launch its next satellite, called Landsat Next. It will bravely break from the numerical naming convention. It will also be an upgrade.

“Even when Landsat 9 was still being built, we talked to scientists in the community,” said Bruce Cook, a Goddard researcher for the program’s upcoming iteration, asking what they wished Landsat 9 would not give them. The answers were straightforward. The desired images of each spot more often, higher resolution data and finer bands: Instruments will divide light into more detailed categories according to their wavelength – a bit like the difference between a set of eight crayons and one of 16. These can reveal things like outbursts of algae blooms whose colors tell the story of their explosive growth. The team hopes that Landsat Next will visit locations every ninth day instead of every 16th, have 26 bands instead of 11 and boast a resolution of about 30 feet, showing spaces that are approximately the length of six sidewalk spaces on one page.

But with the hundreds of private Earth observation satellites in orbit more often delivering higher resolution data, why should the government run Landsat at all? First, Landsat data is free.

Over the past half century, Landsat has had a few parents, including various public authorities and at one time a private company. Today, it is jointly monitored by NASA and the USGS, which operate both Landsat 8 and Landsat 9. (The other orbiters have now retired.) The price tag for satellite data dropped to $ 0 in 2008.

It’s a good buy compared to 1979, when scenes under government ownership went for a few hundred dollars. That price had risen to $ 4,400 per stage in the mid-90s when Landsat had a private operator. When the Feds took it over again and launched the Landsat 7 in 1999, prices fell, but they did not disappear for almost a decade, in part because the Internet made distribution and processing cheaper and less physical. No more ties with the mail!

Today, Landsat data lives in the USGS archives and is available to the public fetch free of charge. Researchers around the world who previously could only afford to buy a picture or three can now click Download to their hearts. Non-profit organizations with tight checkbooks can do the same, and so can researchers from countries without their own satellites. Other branches of the federal government – Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense – also use the data. You and all your curious compatriots can do the same by using a variety of databases and tools according to your needs and technical know-how.

The point is that anyone – regardless of the size of their wallet or the flag over their community buildings – can see the same view of the Earth. “It’s hard to overestimate how important this transparency is,” Morton says. “When we all look at the same data, we all have the same basis for negotiating the future of our planet. I think when only a few people have that data, it changes the balance of power.”

Leave a comment