NASA is set to launch the Landsat 8 satellite on February 11, the latest in their ongoing Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM). This launch is exciting as this will be one of the best image-capturing satellites in space, anticipated to collect over 400 images per day.
From their press release:
After launch, LDCM will enter a polar orbit, circling the Earth about 14 times daily from an altitude of 438 miles (705 kilometers), returning over each location on Earth every 16 days. After launch and the initial checkout phase, the USGS will take operational control of the satellite, and LDCM will be renamed Landsat 8. Data will be downlinked to three ground stations in Gilmore Creek, Alaska; Svalbard, Norway; and Sioux Falls, S.D. The data will be archived and distributed at no cost to users from the USGS’s Earth Resources Observation and Science Center in Sioux Falls.
“LDCM will be the best Landsat satellite yet launched in terms of the quality and quantity of the data collected by the LDCM sensors,” said Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist at Goddard. “OLI and TIRS both employ technological advances that will make the observations more sensitive to the variation across the landscape and to changes in the land surface over time.”
Irons also said that he expects that about 90 days post-launch that NASA will have operational data. “A first light image will come 23 days post-launch; 60 days after launch there will be a first look with some calibration,” said Irons.