Powerful Landsat 9 satellite beams home 1st photos of Earth

Landsat 9's Oct. 31, 2021 image captured the first image of remote islands and inlets in Western Australia's Kimberly region. The Mitchell River cuts through the sandstone in the middle of the image. To the left, Bigge Island is visible, and the Coronation Islands are visible in the Indian Ocean. NASA/USGS image credit
Landsat 9 is now open for business.

The next-generation Earth observation satellite launched in September 27th and took its first photographs of the planet on October 31st. NASA and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), announced Friday (Nov. 5)

The imagery was released by the two agencies which collaborate on Landsat 9 It shows the Florida Panhandle, Detroit and its environs, Navajo Country in northern Arizona, the high Himalayas and the Kimberley area of Western Australia.

Photos: NASA launches Landsat 9 Earth observation satellite

Kathmandu, Nepal is seen in the bottom left of this Landsat 9 photo. It lies in a valley south-west of the Himalayan Mountains, which are located between Nepal and China. The top middle of the image shows glaciers and lakes created by glacial meltwater. Image credit: NASA/USGS

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated that Landsat 9's initial images captured critical observations about the planet's changing landscapes. This will help NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey advance their joint mission to provide critical data about Earth's coastlines and landscapes from space.

Nelson said that the program is able to save and improve lives. "NASA will continue working with USGS to improve and strengthen access to Landsat data, so that decision makers around the globe can better understand the effects of climate change, manage agriculture practices, conserve precious resources, and respond to natural disasters more effectively."

Landsat 9 (the ninth satellite in the Landsat Program) is named after the planet. It has been orbiting the Earth since 1972 and has been monitoring it from space. However, it's only the eighth satellite to orbit; Landsat 6, which was launched in error in 1993, was also lost.

Landsat 9 and other satellite data are used to monitor drought conditions in the Western U.S. and manage irrigation water. Image credit NASA/USGS

Landsat 9 and the identical Landsat 8 will collaborate to take images of the entire Earth every eight days. This satellite will replace the 1999-launched Landsat 7. This is a significant upgrade. Landsat 9 is capable of distinguishing more than 16,000 colors of a given light color, as opposed to only 256 for Landsat 7. NASA officials stated this.

Two Earth-imaging instruments are available on Landsat 9. NASA officials stated that one detects thermal radiation and allows researchers to track surface temperatures. The other picks up visible and near-infrared light in nine wavelengths.

This Landsat 9 image shows Pensacola Beach's white sands. Panama City is visible beneath some popcorn-like clouds. Landsat and other remote sensing Satellites are used to monitor changes in the US coasts, including urban development as well as potential impacts from rising sea levels. Image credit: NASA/USGS

NASA is currently inspecting Landsat 9, its instruments, systems, and subsystems. This process will take approximately 100 days. The space agency will turn mission operations over to USGS in January. This will allow the public to view the images of the satellite at their Landsat website.

Karen St. Germain from NASA's Earth Science Division stated in the same statement that "The images and data from Landsat 9 expand our ability to see how Earth changed over the past decades." "In a changing climate continuous and free access Landsat data and other NASA Earth observing fleet data helps data users, such as city planners and scientists, plan the future.