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Landsat Next

Landsat Next is on the horizon—the new mission will not only ensure continuity of the longest space-based record of Earth’s land surface, it will fundamentally transform the breadth and depth of actionable information freely available to end users.

Landsat Next will also provide new capabilities for the next generation of Landsat users. The enhanced spatial and temporal resolution of the 26-band “superspectral” Landsat Next constellation will unlock new applications for water quality, crop production and plant stress, climate and snow dynamics, soil health and other essential environmental variables.

Landsat Next also continues Landsat’s decades-long data record of multispectral imagery, which affords global, synoptic, and repetitive coverage of Earth’s land surfaces at a scale where natural and human-induced changes can be detected, differentiated, characterized, and monitored over time.

 

Landsat Next Defined

Landsat Next will be a constellation of three observatories sent into orbit on the same launch vehicle, which will provide an improved temporal revisit for monitoring dynamic land and water surfaces such as vegetation, wildfire burns, reservoirs and waterways, coastal and wetland regions, glaciers, and dynamic ice sheets.

Landsats 8 and 9 measure 11 spectral bands from the visible to thermal infrared wavelengths. Landsat Next will have 26 bands; this includes refined versions of the 11 Landsat “heritage” bands, five bands with similar spatial and spectral characteristics to the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 bands to allow easier merging of data products, and ten new spectral bands to support emerging Landsat applications. 

With these improvements, Landsat Next will collect on average about 20 times more data than its predecessor, Landsat 9, and continue to provide free and open data access for all users.

Spectral bands for Landsat 8-9 and Landsat Next
This illustration shows the spectral bands of the sensors onboard Landsat 8 and Landsat 9, compared to those of Landsat Next.

The Landsat Next mission successfully passed Key Decision Point A (KDP-A) and is currently in Phase A. Upcoming project studies will complete the mission design, data management and compression approaches, flight instrument requirements and architecture, and spacecraft resource definition.

The Landsat Next mission is planned to launch in late 2030.

 

The Path to Landsat Next

Following the successful launch of Landsat 8 and during the development of Landsat 9, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA assembled a team of experts from within both agencies for a Joint Agency Sustainable Land Imaging Architecture Study Team to evaluate how to inform an acquisition strategy for a follow-on mission that would best satisfy the diverse and evolving user needs collect by the USGS (Wu et al., 2019).

The highest-recommended architecture was a small constellation of “superspectral” space-based sensors that would improve the spectral, spatial, and temporal capabilities. Landsat Next data would be sufficiently consistent with data from the earlier Landsat missions to permit studies of land cover and land use change over multi-decadal period.

 

Why Landsat Next

Landsat is a civilian satellite program that was initiated to map, monitor, and manage Earth’s natural resources. It has provided an unbiased and unvarnished history of the planet and its changing conditions during the past half-century. Landsat data are critical for mapping natural resources and impact numerous society benefits such as food security, water use, disaster response and more. Landsat also provide essential data for monitoring the ecosystems, water quality, land cover and land use change, and an unparalleled data record of the environment and climate change.

Landsat has been the cornerstone of Earth observing for more than half a century, and Landsat Next will add to this record for the next generation:

Google Scholar and Web of Science statistics of Landsat published works
The scientific contribution of Landsat, as measured by the number of published scholarly works, is larger than any other Earth-observing satellite program.  Image credit:  Wulder et al., 2022. 

Landsat Next will provide enhancements to Landsat “heritage” data:

  • Improved temporal revisit for monitoring dynamic land and water surfaces such as vegetation and crop phenology, burn severity, water use and quality, coastal and wetland change, glacier, and ice sheet dynamics.
  • Improved spatial resolution for agricultural monitoring, ecological monitoring, urban studies, water resources management and other applications.
Illustration of the Landsat Next Satellites
Landsat Next will be a trio of smaller satellites that can each detect 26 wavelengths of light and thermal energy. Image credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Landsat Next will provide new capabilities for the next generation of Landsat users:

  • New spectral bands and refined bands will support new and evolving applications, including surface water quality, cryospheric science, geology, and agricultural applications including crop management and water consumption.
  • The new bands will have similar spatial/spectral characteristics to those of the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite, to allow easier merging of data products.
Landsat Next Spectral Bands
Landsat Next will be "super-spectral" adding 15 new bands to support emerging user applications—for a total of 26 spectral bands. Image credit: NASA Landsat Communication and Public Engagement Team.

 

Landsat Next Spectral Bands

Band Number
Name

Ground
Sample
Distance
(m)
Center
Wavelength
(nm)
Band
width
(nm)

Rationale

1   
Violet
60 412 20 Improved aerosol retrieval;
CDOM from inland/coastal water
2   
Coastal/Aerosol
20 443 20 Landsat heritage
3   
Blue
10 490 65 Landsat heritage

Green
10 560 35 Landsat heritage
5   
Yellow
20 600 30 Leaf chlorosis, vegetation
stress and mapping
6   
Orange
20 620 20 Phycocyanin detection for 
Harmful Algal Blooms
7   
Red 1
20 650 20 Phycocyanin, chlorophyll
8   
Red 2
10 665 30 Landsat heritage
9   
Red Edge 1
20 705 15 LAI, Chlorophyll, 
plant stress (Sentintel-2)
10 
Red Edge 2
20 740 15 LAI, Chlorophyll, 
plant stress (Sentintel-2)
11 
NIR Broad
10 842 115 10m NDVI (Sentintel-2)
12 
NIR 1
20 865 20 ~Landsat heritage/continuity
(note: Sentinel-2 narrower than 
Landsat 8 and Landsat 9)
13 
Water Vapor
60 945 20 Improved atmospheric correction
for Land Surface Temperature, 
Surface Reflectance (Sentinel-2)
14 
Liquid Water
20 985 20 Liquid water, water surface state
15 
Snow/Ice 1
20 1035 20 Snow grain size for water resources
16 
Snow/Ice 2
20 1090 20 Ice absorption, snow grain size
17 
Cirrus
60 1375 30 Landsat heritage
18 
SWIR 1
10 1610 90 Landsat heritage
19 
SWIR 2a
20 2038 25 Subdivided for cellulose/crop
residue measurement
(~Landsat heritage)
20
SWIR 2b
20 2108 40 Subdivided for cellulose/crop
residue measurement
(~Landsat heritage)
21 
SWIR 2c
20 2211 40 Subdivided for cellulose/crop
residue measurement
(~Landsat heritage)
22 
TIR 1

60

8300 250 Mineral and surface
composition mapping
(ASTER)
23 
TIR 2
60 8600 350 Emissivity separation,
volcanoes
(SO2)(MODIS/ASTER)
24 
TIR 3
60 9100 350 Mineral and surface
composition mapping
(ASTER)
25 
TIR 4
60 11300 550 Surface temperature
(Landsat heritage),
carbonates
26 
TIR 5
60 12000 550 Surface temperature, 
snow grain size 
(Landsat heritage)

 

NASA News about Landsat Next: 

 

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