Saturday, January 28, 2006

Landsat Program: They've Got You Covered

Since 1972 a Landsat satellite has been orbiting the Earth capturing images and providing scientists with data on things such as hurricane Katrina and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Just about every global change study uses Landsat data, available through the Space Imaging Corporation. Although the new IKONOS satellite now provides better resolution, scientists still flock to Landsat data. They use it to track global changes in surface temperatures and atmosphere and especially the impact of urbanization on rural communities and the environment.

In the 1980's the Landsat program became NASA's first big commercial space effort, and a wildly successful one at that. Landsat 5, designed for only a five-year-mission, will celebrate 22 years in service next month. Engineers recently corrected a problem that had side-lined the machine, but it's now functioning perfectly and continuing to churn out those amazing photos...

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