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December 9, 2021

NASA and the USGS briefed the Landsat Science Team about Landsat 9 at their Fall Meeting held virtually on November 24, 2021.

Color Landsat 9 image of Western Australia
Mangroves are prominent along the northwest coast of Australia. The first image collected by Landsat 9, on Oct. 31, 2021, shows mangroves clustered in protected inlets and bays on the edge of the Indian Ocean. Fluffy cumulus clouds and high-altitude cirrus clouds hover nearby. The aqua colors of the shallow near-shore waters give way to the deep, dark blues of the ocean.

Currently, Landsat 9 is in the middle of its commissioning phase. On orbit checkout is proceeding nominally and all major subsystems were checked and exercised in the first few weeks after launch. Downlink capabilities from the X-band is optimal for all five Landsat Ground Network stations, as well as Data Processing and Archive System handling at EROS.

First Light images were released in early November, with the first view from the new orbiting satellite focusing on Australia’s West Coast. The OLI and TIRS instruments are currently acquiring 600+ images a day for calibration and testing, and all indications are that both instruments are performing as expected.

The underfly of Landsat 9 in mid-November collected over 1400 simultaneous images. This once-in-a-mission opportunity allows for cross-calibration between the Landsat 8 and 9 instruments, ensuring data consistency across the Landsat archive. Field teams from across the world participated in the underfly, collecting field measurement that will be paired with the Landsat acquired images for calibration. Final calibration parameters are on track to be done by the end of commissioning.

As of December 1, 2021, Landsat 9 has reached its final WRS-2 orbit at a 705 km altitude and is now imaging on its 16-day cycle. In early 2022, after the Mission Transition and Handover review is complete, responsibility and ownership of the Landsat 9 Mission will be transferred from NASA to the USGS and nominal science operations and routine acquisitions will begin.  Landsat 9 Level-1 data and Level-2 science products will then become available at no cost to all users through the USGS data portals.

Presentations from this meeting can be found at https://www.usgs.gov/landsat-missions/landsat-science-team-meeting-november-24-2021

 

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