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, 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.
After NASA completes on-orbit checkout, the USGS is responsible for the ground system, flight operations, data processing, data product distribution and archiving.
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.
The satellite carries two science instruments, the Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI-2) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS-2). The OLI–2 captures observations of the Earth’s surface in visible, near-infrared, and shortwave-infrared bands, and TIRS-2 measures thermal infrared radiation, or heat, emitted from the Earth’s surface. Both OLI and TIRS have a 5-year mission design life, although the spacecraft has 10+ years of consumables.
Landsat 9 improvements include higher radiometric resolution for OLI-2 (14-bit quantization increased from 12-bits for Landsat 8) allowing sensors to detect more subtle differences, especially over darker areas such as water or dense forests. With the higher radiometric resolution, Landsat 9 can differentiate 16,384 shades of a given wavelength. In comparison, Landsat 8 provides 12-bit data and 4,096 shades, and Landsat 7 detects only 256 shades with its 8-bit resolution. In addition to the OLI-2 improvement, TIRS-2 has significantly reduced stray light compared to the Landsat 8 Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) which enables improved atmospheric correction and more accurate surface temperature measurements..
Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI-2)
The OLI-2 design is a copy of Landsat 8’s OLI, and will provide 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
Landsat 9 Data Products
Data acquired by Landsat 9 is 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 collects 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 are available for download through the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center at no charge.