Release No. 99-34
LANDSAT 7 SPACECRAFT TO JOIN NASA’S EARTH SCIENCE TEAM
NASA will deploy the first major satellite in an unprecedented program tocheck the health of Planet Earth and understand the complex interactions thatdrive global change with the April 15 launch of the Landsat 7, the latest mission inthe Landsat series, which has been documenting the Earth’s surface for morethan a quarter century.NASA plans to launch six spacecraft over the course of the year dedicatedto advancing our understanding of global change. Landsat 7’s role in this effortwill be to make global, high-resolution measurements of land surface andsurrounding coastal regions.The diversity of applications makes the Landsat spacecraft unique amongEarth observation satellites. Landsat images have been used in everything frommeasuring the ebb and flow of glaciers and population changes in and aroundmetropolitan areas, to monitoring strip mining reclamation and assessing waterquality in lakes. Landsat has been used to monitor timber losses in the U.S.Pacific Northwest, map the extent of winter snow pack, and measure forest coverat the state level.“We feel that the Landsat 7 spacecraft will dramatically enhance the use ofremotely sensed data in our daily lives,” said Dr. Darrel Williams, Landsat 7Project Scientist, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.Every 16 days, Landsat 7 will fly over and document the condition of theentire globe. As far as scientific Earth observing satellites go, Landsat 7 is uniquein that the images it collects are extremely detailed – Landsat can “see” featureson the planet as small as 30 meters, compared to the geostationary GOESsatellites which can only resolve objects of 4 kilometers or greater. So good arethe Landsat images that scientists studying volcanoes can actually produce mapsof lava flows with pinpoint accuracy.Landsat 7 marks a new direction in the program to reduce the cost of dataand increase global coverage for use in global change research. Every day,Landsat 7 will collect 250 scenes, each one containing enough digital data to fill apowerful home computer’s hard drive. While previous Landsat data were often tooexpensive for widespread scientific use, all Landsat 7 data received at the maincollecting center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota will be archived and availableelectronically within 24 hours and will be sold at cost.