Landsat 9, NASA’s most powerful Landsat satellite to date, is ready for launch on Monday

NASA authorized its powerful new Earth observation satellite to be put into orbit from the California coast on Monday, September 27.

The satellite, called Landsat 9, is poised to take off from Vandenberg Space Force Base on top of an Atlas V rocket provided by the United Launch Alliance. Take-off is scheduled for 2:12 p.m. EDT (11:12 a.m. PDT or 6:12 p.m. GMT)

“The spacecraft, the Atlas V rocket, all the equipment in the lineup, is ready,” NASA launch director Tim Dunn told reporters at a press conference on Saturday (September 25th). The mission has a 30-minute window to take off from Space Launch Complex 3E in Vandenberg, he added.

Four small cubesats will also be launched into orbit with Landsat 9. Two will study the atmospheres of the solar wind and exoplanets as part of NASA research. Two more are on undisclosed missions for the US Space Force, Dunn said.

In picture : Images of the Earth from space: the legacy of the Landsat satellite

Artist’s illustration of NASA’s Landsat 9 Earth observation satellite in orbit. (Image credit: NASA)

Landsat 9 will be the ninth and most advanced satellite to survey Earth from above for the Landsat program, a joint effort by NASA and the US Geological Survey that has provided consistent images of our planet for nearly 50 years . It carries a high-resolution camera and a sensitive infrared sensor that together can image the Earth in 11 spectral bands and resolve objects up to about 15 meters wide. The satellite is expected to orbit the Earth at an altitude of about 438 miles (705 kilometers) above the planet’s poles.

“For nearly 50 years, Landsat satellites have documented the changing landscape of Earth,” Michael Egan, NASA’s Landsat program manager, said at the press conference. “Landsat 9 will improve and develop this unprecedented record for our home planet.”

Landsat 9 will be able to image the entire Earth every 16 days. Combined with data from its predecessor Landsat 8, launched in 2013 and still in use today, the two satellites can cover the entire Earth every eight days, Egan said. Landsat 9 is designed to last at least 5 years in orbit and replace the aging Landsat 7, which is also in use today.

Landsat satellites have been studying the Earth since 1972. This continuous coverage is essential for tracking changes to the Earth, especially as the planet experiences more extreme weather conditions, powerful storms, fires and other effects of climate change. , said mission officials.

“As we know, climate change is real,” Tanya Trujillo, assistant secretary for water and science at the interior ministry at the press conference. “The Landsat program is a great tool to help us guide our efforts to understand and document the changes we see on a daily basis.”

Northrop Grumman built the $ 750 million Landsat 9 for NASA, with the mission team saving about $ 90 million from its initial budget, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science missions, told reporters on Saturday. .

It was a long road to the launch pad for Landsat 9. The satellite was originally scheduled to launch on September 16, but was postponed to September 23 due to a shortage of liquid nitrogen linked to the COVID-pandemic. 19 in progress. High winds caused another delay until September 27.

The mission will also launch a minute later than scheduled to avoid a risk of collision with NASA’s Calypso / CloudSat satellite in orbit, Dunn said. Currently, the weather forecast predicts a 60% chance of good conditions at the time of launch.

If NASA and the United Launch Alliance are unable to launch Landsat 9 on Monday, a backup launch window is available on Tuesday, with similar weather conditions expected.

Email Tariq Malik at [email protected] or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.


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