Monday, March 25, 2013

Landsat-8 Continues 40 Years of Earth Observation

Well, we are absolutely thrilled here at SkyTruth that the new Landsat-8 satellite (also known in classic NASA-speak as the Landsat Data Continuity Mission) appears to be functioning perfectly following it's flawless launch in early February.  Check out these sharp-looking pics of the Colorado Front Range. 

Landsat-8 satellite image of Fort Collins, Colorado, taken on March 18, 2013. Images courtesy NASA.
This extends a stellar run of continuous earth-observation going back to the launch of Landsat-1 in 1972.  The millions of images collected since then -- all publicly available, for free -- constitute a remarkable record and database for measuring changes in landscapes and ecosystems around the world.  Of course, here at SkyTruth we make extensive use of Landsat images to track and illustrate the impacts of human activities like coal and tar sands mining, oil and gas drilling and fracking, and logging.  

Back when I started my remote-sensing career, Landsat images were sold through a for-profit company that charged $4,400 per image (even though the entire system was taxpayer-built and operated).  Happily, now you can download every single Landsat image for free and do your own skytruthing.  Let us know what you find!


2 comments:

  1. I am excited to find your site and that you do what you do. I have been trying to document the conversion of forest to government subsidized irrigated, fertilized fields and have been trouble getting my Freedom of Information Act and Public Information Requests (Florida) answered. I was willing to pay for current remote images but was not able to find any. I found some of what I was looking for from your links to the USGS, but some of the images for my own neighborhood were not correct for the dates specified on the interface I used. Also the most important images were "blued" out and not available all the way back to 2011. Thanks so much for what you do and this excellent info. Annette Long Chiefland Florida

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  2. Annette - thanks for writing. There should be good, long track record of regular Landsat imagery for Florida going all the way back to 1972 (http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/). The South Florida Water Management District has a lot of imagery too - you might check in with them (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page).

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