Landsat 8 Launched Today as Landsat 5 Enters Guinness World Records-UPDATE

Landsat 8 Launched Today as Landsat 5 Enters Guinness World Records-UPDATE

UPDATE:  Landsat was successfully launched on time at 1:02 pm EST today, February 11, 2013, on an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA.

ORIGINAL STORY:  Everything is on track for the launch of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) at 1:02 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) today.  Assuming all goes well, this eighth U.S. medium-resolution land remote sensing satellite will be renamed Landsat 8 once it is in orbit.

Landsat 8 will provide data to continue building a multi-decade database about changes in the land surface of the planet.  The first Landsat (then named the Earth Resources Technology Satellite, ERTS) was launched in 1972 and a succession of satellites has provided uninterrupted data since then thanks to the longevity of one in particular, Landsat 5.  

Landsat 5 operated for a record-breaking 28 years and 10 months, entering the Guinness World Records for the “longest operating earth observation satellite.”  Its longevity was vital for maintaining continuity of the data record.  Landsat 6, built by the private sector as part of a failed attempt to privatize the program in the Carter and Reagan Administrations, was lost in a launch failure.  Landsat 5 kept the data flowing until the launch of Landsat 7, built by NASA after the Landsat program was returned to the government, and long thereafter.  It was just decommissioned last month.   Landsat 7 is still operating, though it also is long past its design lifetime and its data are degraded because of a malfunction in its scan line corrector.

NASA was responsible for building and launching Landsat 8.   Once operational, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will take over operation of the satellite.  It has operated the Landsat satellites for many years. 

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