Thursday, October 23, 2014

Landsat and the power of seeing from above

Image above:  A Fantastic Landsat flyby of EarthThe Landsat program is the longest continuous global record of the Earth's surface, and continues to deliver both visually stunning and scientifically valuable images of our planet. This short video highlights Landsat's many benefits to society.

Like a bird!

This posting follows on from the recent Spatialworlds postings called ' From above' and 'Like a Bird'. In these postings I discussed the changes brought about by satellite imagery and the modern remote sensing capacity to see the Earth from above. 

"The technology of the 20th Century set in motion the age of seeing the Earth from above in all its spatial glory, an age which has changed the population’s perception of the Earth they live on."

This posting showcases the amazing imagery gathered by NASA's Landsat program. In particular the power of Landsat to map and show change over time. With Change being one of the key concepts of the Australian Curriculum: Geography, I thought it was opportune to remind us of the wonderful images provided by NASA for the geography classroom.

The Landsat program is the longest running enterprise for the acquisition of satellite imagery of the Earth. On July 23, 1972 the Earth Resources Technology Satellite was launched. This was eventually renamed to Landsat. The most recent, Landsat 8, was launched on February 11, 2013. The instruments on the Landsat satellites have acquired millions of images. The images, archived in the United States and at Landsat receiving stations around the world, are a unique resource for global change research and applications in agriculture, cartography, geology, forestry, regional planning, surveillance and education, and can be viewed through the USGS 'EarthExplorer' website. Landsat 7 data has eight spectral bands with spatial resolutions ranging from 15 to 60 meters; the temporal resolution is 16 days.

Here are some great Youtubes involving the Landsat program:

Celebrating this anniversary, this video is a "greatest hits" montage of Landsat data. Throughout the decades, Landsat satellites have given us a detailed view of the changes to Earth's land surface. By collecting data in multiple wavelength regions, including thermal infrared wavelengths, the Landsat fleet has allowed us to study natural disasters, urban change, water quality and water usage, agriculture development, glaciers and ice sheets, and forest health. 

This video examines two uses of Landsat data to monitor agriculture. Both wineries and timber companies rely on Landsat data to check whether their vines and trees are getting enough (or too much) water and fertilizer. The small resolution and regular repeat cycle of the satellite data is crucial to monitoring the health of their crops.

* Earth from the ISS: Watch along with Expedition 38 crew members Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio as they look at various cities across the globe from the vantage point of the Cupola on-board the International Space Station 

* NASA Earth Day 2012

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