NASA plans to launch one of its most high-tech Earth observation satellites to date Monday from California to help track climate events that range from California wildfires to deforestation of the Amazon.
Landsat 9 is the ninth in a series that NASA began to launch in 1972, marking a five-decade partnership between the space agency and the U.S. Geological Survey.
It is intended to provide a continuous record of climate change, urban area growth, glacial melt, cropland health and other phenomena.
“Landsat is our longest-lived remote sensing program,” Jeff Masek, project scientist at NASA’s Maryland-based Goddard Space Flight Center, said during a press conference Friday.
“Since 1972, it has amassed over 9 million multispectral images of Earth’s land in coastal regions.”
The new Landsat satellite will join sister satellite Landsat 8 in orbit “to continue collecting images from across the planet to monitor essential resources including crops, irrigation water and forests,” Masek said.
Landsat 9, which cost some $900 million, will complete surveys of important coastal areas every eight days at a height of 438 miles — far above the International Space Station.
The near-polar orbit will be synchronized with the sun’s daylight to ensure well-illuminated imagery, Masek said.