Landsat 9 to make significant improvements to the agricultural landscape around the globe

Earth’s surface will now be able to be captured from space with better resolution to study climate and climate change impacts
Landsat 9 Launch
Landsat 9 Launch(AP)
Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 9:36 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) -

NASA has launched its most sophisticated Earth-observing satellite from California on Monday. Landsat 9, which lifted off just after 2pm EDT September 27th, is on track to be in orbit at an altitude of 705 kilometers (438 Miles).

Landsat 9 works to document the Earth’s changing landscape of forests and icecaps as well as tracking resources like food and water. Landsat 9 will help enhance the already 50 years of continuous global satellite records of the Earth’s surface. The still flying predecessor, Landsat 8, will keep collect satellite images together capture the entire planet alongside the newly launched Landsat 9. Together, the two will cover the entire Earth in eight days. The outdated Landsat 7 will cease operations when Landsat 9 is in orbit.

Landsat 9 is a collaborative effort between NASA and The US Geological Survey (USGS) to capture and study the entire globe’s surface. With the already broad collection of data brought in over the last 5 decades, Landsat 9 will be able to show physical characteristics of Earth more in depth than Landsat 8 due to its enhanced absorption of light. Landsat 9 sees 16,384 different colors , 4 times more depth than Landsat 8. This allows for more detail, from distinguishing deep pockets in the ocean waters or more dense forests.

This data is able to help American farmers understand climate change and the landscape of vegetation over the past 50 years. Wildfires, hurricanes, insect outbreaks, expansion of large cities have all been tracked with Landsat technology. Landsat’s data is able to identify vegetation decline in water-limited, semi-arid climates, as well as how healthy the soil is for agriculture. This means being able to dictate what regions can best accommodate certain types of crops, an issue already established in the U.S.

According to a study done by Colombia University in 2018, the dividing line between the drier western United States and the more moist Eastern United States has been slowly creeping eastward into the Midwest region due to climate change. The arid western plains aren’t so western now, as the line has shifted over 100 miles in the last century. Farming is most prominent between the Mississippi River and Rocky Mountains, and as the dry air pushes east, ideal farming weather is put in jeopardy for the coming decades. For example, local farmers here in Texoma may have to reevaluate accordingly on where to plant dry sensitive crops in the future if this trend of the shift in the dry line continues. With Landsat 9′s imagery, we are able to see real time updates to understand how quickly this line moves east.

Shift in Dry Line
Shift in Dry Line(Richard Seager et al.)

As for the whole Earth, Landsat 9′s advancements will enable USGS researchers to make more informed decisions with major impact areas. Landsat sends impartial and unbiased photos of the Earths forests which will allow world leaders and organizations more supported date for carbon storage and deforestation rates. As for Icecaps at the poles, Landsat 9 will be able to distinguish cracks and melting more closely. Urban expansion will be monitored more to see the human impacts on the landscape and its long term effects on the environment. The newest satellite also has the ability to save lives with its data related to natural disasters, like the Wildfires in Western United States, as apart of the International Disaster Charter.

Overall, NASA’s Landsat’s data has been collected over 50 years to show climate and climate change effects on the whole world, and with the help of the USGS, what can be done to minimize negative effects in the next 50 years. Access to photos and data collected from Landsat 9 will be free for anyone as it becomes available in early 2022.


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