NASA's Landsat 9 has successfully launched into orbit. The spacecraft's newest Earth-observing satellite will contribute to the Landsat family of satellites' 50-year continuous record of global imagery acquired since 1972.

Landsat 9 took out from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California today at 2:12 p.m. EDT, the space agency said, marking the installation's 2,000th launch since 1958. About 80 minutes after liftoff, the spacecraft detached from its rocket ride as anticipated.

The Atlas V soon vanished behind a thick obscuring marine layer, a frequent feature of the Central California coast at this time of year, despite weather forecasts at the 30th Space Delta predicting ideal circumstances for liftoff.

The launch date has been changed from September 16 to today. However, it was postponed for a week due to a high liquid oxygen demand to treat COVID-19 patients. According to NASA officials, the business that provides required liquid nitrogen to Vandenberg was retasked to deliver additional medical liquid oxygen instead, causing the Landsat 9 launch schedule to be impacted. The launch was subsequently put back a few days due to weather concerns.

NASA Launches New Mission to Monitor Earth’s Landscapes
(Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket with the Landsat 9 satellite onboard launches, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The Landsat 9 satellite is a joint NASA/U.S. Geological Survey mission that will continue the legacy of monitoring Earth’s land and coastal regions.

Landsat 9 to Continue Previous Legacy

According to the BBC, Landsat 9 is the ninth imaging satellite poised to take over the NASA/USGS spacecraft series. The mission is expected to cost about $750 million, said.

For the last six years, Landsat has been working closely with the European Union's Sentinel-2 satellites. Their imagers, once again, have been painstakingly set up to perceive the Earth in the same way as their American counterparts.

The evolution of the outlines of coastlines, forests, deserts, and glaciers has been documented by Landsat, which has tracked the rise of megacities, the spread of farming, and the evolution of coasts, forests, deserts, and glaciers. It's even been used to track the behavior of a variety of species from space, including wildebeest, wombats, woodpeckers, and walrus.

NASA's Landsat-9 project scientist, Dr. Jeff Masek, stated that they'd compiled an incredible history of how the globe has evolved over the previous half-century.

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Landsat, for example, observed natural disruptions. Fires, storms, bug outbreaks, and the long-term recovery of ecosystems, which may take decades, were among them.

Landsat also looked at the effects of climate and climate change on ecosystems. It also identified regions of increasing plant cover owing to a warmer environment at high latitudes. Water-scarce semi-arid settings have seen patches of vegetation decrease, according to the study.

The technology has been able to discern features on the ground as tiny as 30m wide since 1982 with Landsat-4. While there are now many additional imaging satellites orbiting the Earth with far finer views (in the tens of centimeters), none compare to Landsat's endurance.

This is the ability that allows scientists to extract real-time patterns. What's more, the information is free and open. Landsat images are freely accessible and usable by anybody, anywhere.

Latest Landsat Still Has Many Things to Do Before Being Fully Operational

Before Landsat-9 can be declared operational, the same BBC report that the spacecraft still has much work to perform.

The Atlas rocket that launched the spacecraft dumped it down at the height of little under 680 kilometers. This necessitates Landsat-9 using its rockets to ascend to an observation height of a little over 700 kilometers.

Landsat-9 will begin gathering photos in the coming weeks when all onboard systems have been commissioned. Experts may compare the data from its still-flying predecessor, Landsat-8, which was launched in 2013. Every eight days, the two will photograph the entire Earth together.

This research will ensure that the colors identified by the new satellite can be directly linked to photos from the Landsat collection, which spans five decades.

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