Landsat 8 Goes Operational Today; Press Conference This Afternoon

Landsat 8 Goes Operational Today; Press Conference This Afternoon

NOTE:  USGS has clarified that the press conference is at 1:30 pm Central Time (2:30 pm Eastern).

Landsat 8 officially becomes operational today as the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) takes over operations from NASA.  The satellite was launched in February.

NASA launched the first Landsat (then called ERTS-1) in 1972.   Subsequent satellites have provided a continuous stream of land remote sensing imagery that is maintained at and distributed for free by the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, SD.   

A press conference is scheduled there today at 1:30 pm Central Time (2:30 pm Eastern) to mark the handover of operations.  Participants include:

  • Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD)
  • Mike Freilich, NASA Earth Science Division Director
  • Suzette Kimball, USGS Acting Director
  • Colleen Hartman, NASA-Goddard Deputy Director for Science, Operations and Performance Management
  • Frank Kelly, EROS Director

NASA referred to the satellite prior to launch as the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), but its official name now is Landsat 8.  NASA built and launched Landsat 8; USGS only operates it, as well as Landsat 7, which was launched in 1999 and is still functioning although a line scan error problem means a loss of 22 percent of data on each image.

The Obama Administration wanted to transfer the entire Landsat program to USGS, but Congress said no because of concern that the funding requirements would overwhelm other USGS priorities.  In the FY2014 budget request, the Administration is proposing that NASA take the lead in ensuring continuity of this type of data.

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