Landsat 8 Completes 5 Years of Operation

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Detailed Description

USGS Scientists John Dwyer and Tom Loveland from EROS discuss the major accomplishments of Landsat 8 as it reaches it's 5 year design life. The Landsat program started in 1972, and has a bright future thanks to these extraordinary satellites.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:03:49

Location Taken: Sioux Falls, SD, US


When I'm asked what
Landsat 8 has contributed

I'd basically, generally identify
three broad areas.

More data, better data,
and new measurements.

The data collection rate
that we're experiencing

right now, is almost twice
what our original requirements

were, which is 400 scenes
a day. And we're acquiring

anywhere from 700 to 780.

So we're acquiring almost
total potential coverage of

the sunlight part of the earth
every orbit. that's really

phenomenal from the perspective
of allowing us to better

understand changes. We're now
imaging areas we didn't image

as well before. Persistently
cloudy areas like the tropics,

and very, very remote high
latitude areas like the poles.

Those are 2 of the most changing
parts of the earth and so

our ability to understand some
of the most fragile and dynamic

parts of this earth are now being
done with Landsat 8.

Another aspect of it is obviously
in terms of the instruments

they're state of the art.
Two examples wound be

what we can do with ice sheets
and glaciers now, in terms of

feature discrimination, feature
tracking to estimate ice movement

velocities and things of that
nature is really critical.

And then for darker targets, you
know, like water, very dark soils,

volcanic rocks, you know, we can
even pick up more detail there.

So that's really significant, I think
in terms of reaching aspects of

the applications community
that we couldn't before.

We added a band called the
cirrus band that allows us to

detect thin clouds and their
shadows. And by being able

to do that, we are now improving
the overall quality of the imagery

by removing artifacts that
otherwise might have not

been detected.
We added a coastal aerosol band

that gives us the opportunity
to better measure constituents

in the water column. So that
provides new opportunities

for the growth of applications
in monitoring water quality

around the world.
We also added an additional

thermal band which has
the capability of increasing

our understanding of the earth's
energy budget and translating

that into important measurements
such as evapotranspiration that's

important for for managing water
use. To date, almost all capabilities

that we rely on Landsat 8 are
working superbly.

he operational land imager, OLI,
exceeds expectations month

after month after month. It's a
real testimony to the engineering,

the science behind that instrument.

We've seen absolutely no
deterioration or degradation of

the OLI. Although we did have
some early problems with TIRS,

we haven't seen any further
degradation there.

The way I look at it, is the
operating constraint probably

is going to be the amount of
fuel left on the spacecraft.

We've nearly doubled its capacity
for imaging and we're getting

those images out to users around
the world generally in less than

8 hours. I see nothing but
profound success for Landsat 8.

I think at this 5 year point we
can look and see that there's

been a real revolution in the
use of the data because a 

number of things have kind of
come together. We have a high

quality spacecraft and instrument,
we had the opening of the data

policy, which gets the data in a
lot more peoples' hands.

Computing is a lot cheaper.
Storage is a lot cheaper.

And the algorithms have gotten
to be more sophisticated.

So we can really leverage the
data that's acquired.

I think that we could safely say
we are in the business of

distributing information,
not just data.