Landsat-9 Maintains Vital Earth Record

The Landsat-9 mission will be the latest Earth observation satellite in a series of satellites that have been providing vital earth records for over 40 years. The mission is scheduled to launch on April 16th, 2017 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It will collect data from our planet which scientists can use to study changes in land and water resources, monitor plant growth rates, map natural disasters such as forest fires, and track human development patterns.

The satellite will be in a near-polar orbit and follow the earth 16 times per day, imaging all land surfaces in any given 24 hour period. The majority of images produced by Landsat-9 will be provided freely to users and sponsors. As was true with previous Landsats, UC Merced scientists and faculty are eager to access the vast data sets for their research. As of the date of publishing, Landsat-9 has already collected over 400 images of California alone.

The university is excited to be able to tap into this incredible resource, said UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland in a press statement released on March 22nd, 2017. Landsat enables scientists to study changes in landscape and vegetation, monitor fires and volcanoes, observe animal migrations, track urban growth and natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods or landslides.

The satellite will also collect images of space objects such as the International Space Station. When it’s not being used for scientific research purposes, the university can request a pass over the satellite to capture images of its own facilities. It will take about five days for Landsat-9 to travel from the West Coast to the East Coast.

The high resolution along with daily updates provides us an excellent opportunity to work with our partners here at UC Merced and within the community to conduct important research, said Dean of Research and Dean of Student Affairs Rob Byer in the press statement.

The high-resolution images Derral Mulholland, Director of Facilities at UC Merced said has been especially valuable to him and his team when there is a need for close up views of the campus during specific projects. He gave examples such as taking pictures during the solar panels installation, construction of the Gateway Science building, and during certain research projects.