NASA Launches "Major" Earth-Observing Satellite


| LAST UPDATE 09/29/2021

By Sharon Renee
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Planet Observer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Another day, another milestone: NASA recently launched their latest Earth-observing satellite, marking an exciting day in scientific history. Programmed to monitor our planet, here's what to know about the history-making spacecraft.

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On Monday, September 27, California's Vandenberg Space Force Base was home to eager spectators as NASA launched its latest project: a $750 million satellite built to monitor Earth's landscapes. The mission - a joint effort of both NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) - is like nothing California has ever seen before. In fact, as Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland put it, the "successful launch is a major milestone." Why?

Titled Landsat-9, the spacecraft marks the ninth installment of what is formally known as the Landsat Program. Ever since its launch in the 1970s, the government initiative has been collecting crucial data about our planet. From climate change to wildlife to inexplicable phenomena, the satellite has been providing game-changing information for decades.

"The Landsat mission is like no other," Karen St. Germain, director of the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters, assured. "For nearly 50 years, Landsat satellites observed our home planet, providing an unparalleled record of how its surface has changed over timescales from days to decades." As for how the mission's ninth spacecraft will come into play?

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After "a 100-day, on-orbit commissioning period," as NASA explained, Landsat-9 will begin to document everything there is to know about Earth. But the data collected won't only be available to researchers behind the latest initiative. That's right: Landsat-9's journey around the galaxy be documented on Twitter, but users can also follow along on NASA's interactive website.

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"Launches are always exciting, and today was no exception," Jeff Masek, NASA Landsat 9 project scientist, proudly revealed. "But the best part for me, as a scientist, will be when the satellite starts delivering the data that people are waiting for, adding to Landsat's legendary reputation in the data user community." That being said, be sure to stay tuned for all of the latest updates.