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Landsat 9

Landsat 9 is a partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and will continue the Landsat program’s critical role of repeat global observations for monitoring, understanding, and manag­ing Earth’s natural resources.

Since 1972, Landsat data have provided a unique resource for those who work in agricul­ture, geology, forestry, regional planning, education, mapping, and global-change research. Landsat images have also proved invaluable to the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters, sup­porting emergency response and disaster relief to save lives. With the addition of Landsat 9, the Landsat program’s record of land imaging will be extended to over half a century.

Spacecraft and Launch Components:

  • Spacecraft Provider: Northrop Grumman
  • Spacecraft Bus: Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems  (formerly Orbital ATK)
  • Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401
  • Spacecraft Speed: 16,760 miles/hr (26,972 km/hr)
  • Design Life: 5 years
  • Consumables: 10 years
Landsat 9 logo

Landsat 9, like previous missions, was launched on September 27, 2021 at 1:12PM CST from Vanden­berg Air Force Base, California, onboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket. Landsat 9 carries the Opera­tional Land Imager 2 (OLI–2), built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corpora­tion, Boulder, Colorado, and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS–2), built at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. Northrop Grumman designed and fabricated the space­craft and integrat­ed the two instruments.

NASA is responsible for the space segment (instruments and spacecraft/observatory), mission integration, launch, and on-orbit checkout. NASA-managed satellite builds have a mission lifecycle (see the image below) that is divided into incremental phases. Phase A is concept and technology development; Phase B is preliminary design and technology completion; Phase C is final design and fabrication; Phase D is system assembly, integration/testing, and launch readiness; Phase E starts after on-orbit operational checkout and ends at the mission’s operational end.

The USGS is responsible for the ground system, flight operations, data processing, and data product distri­bution after NASA completes on-orbit checkout. 

After commissioning and on-orbit check out, Landsat 9 will move into the current orbit of Landsat 7, which has sufficient fuel to operate into 2021, and will subsequently be decommissioned. Landsat 9 will image the Earth every 16 days in an 8-day offset with Landsat 8. Landsat 9 will collect as many as 750 scenes per day, and with Landsat 8, the two satellites will add nearly 1,500 new scenes a day to the USGS Landsat archive.

Landsat 9 mission Development and Lifecycle Timeline
Landsat 9 Mission Development and Lifecycle. Image credit: NASA Landsat

Landsat 9 Instruments 

The instruments onboard Landsat 9 are improved replicas of those currently collecting data onboard Landsat 8, which are already providing data that is radio­metrically and geometrically superior than instruments on previous generation Landsat satellites.

Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI-2)

Landsat 9 fact sheet
Landsat 9 Fact Sheet 2019-3008

The OLI–2 will capture observa­tions of the Earth’s surface in visible, near-infrared, and shortwave-infrared bands with an improved radiometric precision (14-bit quantization increased from 12 bits for Landsat 8), slightly improving overall signal to noise ratio. The TIRS–2 will measure the thermal infrared radiation, or heat, of the Earth’s surface with two bands that have improved performance over Landsat 8’s thermal bands. Both OLI–2 and TIRS–2 have a 5-year mission design life, although the spacecraft has 10+ years of consumables.

The OLI-2 design is a copy of Landsat 8’s OLI, and will provide visible and near infrared / shortwave infrared (VNIR/SWIR) imagery consistent with previous Landsat spectral, spatial, radiometric and geometric qualities. OLI-2 will provide data for nine spectral bands with a maximum ground sampling distance (GSD), both in-track and cross track, of 30-meters(m) (98 feet) for all bands except the panchromatic band, which has a 15-meters (49 feet) GSD. OLI-2 will provide both internal calibration sources to ensure radiometric accuracy and stability, as well as the ability to perform solar and lunar calibrations. OLI-2 is designed by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado. 

Nine spectral bands:

  • Band 1 Visible (0.43 - 0.45 µm) 30-m
  • Band 2 Visible (0.450 - 0.51 µm) 30-m
  • Band 3 Visible (0.53 - 0.59 µm) 30-m
  • Band 4 Red (0.64 - 0.67 µm) 30-m
  • Band 5 Near-Infrared (0.85 - 0.88 µm) 30-m
  • Band 6 SWIR 1(1.57 - 1.65 µm) 30-m
  • Band 7 SWIR 2 (2.11 - 2.29 µm) 30-m
  • Band 8 Panchromatic (PAN) (0.50 - 0.68 µm) 15-m
  • Band 9 Cirrus (1.36 - 1.38 µm) 30-m

Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS-2)

Landsat 9’s Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS-2) will measure thermal radiance emitted from the land surface in two thermal infrared bands using the same technology that was used for TIRS on Landsat 8, however TIRS-2 will be an improved version of Landsat 8’s TIRS, both with regards to instrument risk class and design to minimize stray light.  TIRS-2 will provide two spectral bands with a maximum ground sampling distance, both in-track and cross track, of 100 m (328 ft) for both bands. TIRS-2 provides an internal blackbody calibration source as well as space view capabilities. TIRS-2 is designed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 

Two spectral bands:

  • Band 10 TIRS 1 (10.6 - 11.19 µm) 100-m
  • Band 11 TIRS 2 (11.5 - 12.51 µm) 100-m
Spectral Bandpasse for all Landsat Sensors
This image shows the bandpass wavelengths for the Landsat 1-9 sensors. *Landsat MSS = the numbers shown are for Landsat 4 and Landsat 5; Landsat 1-3 band numbers are 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Landsat 9 Data Products

Data acquired by Landsat 9 will be processed into the Landsat Collection 2 inventory structure in the Worldwide Reference System-2 (WRS-2) path/row system, with swath overlap (or sidelap) varying from 7 percent at the Equator to a maximum of approximately 85 percent at extreme latitudes. 

Landsat 9 will collect as many as 750 scenes per day, and with Landsat 8, the two satellites will add nearly 1,500 new scenes a day to the USGS Landsat archive. Landsat 9 will increase the volume of the USGS archive by imaging all global landmasses and nearshore coastal regions, including islands at solar elevation angles greater than 5 degrees that were not always rou­tinely collected prior to Landsat 8.

All Landsat 9 data products will continue to be made available for down­load through the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center at no charge.

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