NASA Launches Most Advanced Earth Satellite

First Posted: Feb 11, 2013 10:33 PM EST

Landsat 8, the latest and most advanced satellite in the Landsat family, has made its way into orbit Monday, building up on a 40-year legacy of Earth’s monitoring satellites.

"I do not think it hyperbole to suggest that all seven billion of us will benefit from the results of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission," said Jim Irons, the satellite's project scientist.

"We don't call it the Data Continuity Mission for nothing.” According to the scientist, the reason for launching LDCM is to continue the collection of global land observations on a seasonal basis so that we can continue to study the changes in land cover and land use over time.

Under mostly clear skies, Atlas 5, a United Launch Alliance rocket, was launched at 10:02am (PST) from its deployment center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. It had a 78-minute flight ahead of it.

"Go have a bottle of wine, not a glass, a bottle! Or something," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who watched the launch from Vandenberg with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, told to launch team after the successful flight.

The bill of this $855 million mission fell at NASA. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration paid for the satellite, the instruments and the Atlas 5 rocket, performing overall systems engineering and controlling early orbit operations. The U.S. Geological Survey will take control of the spacecraft once it is commissioned and will be responsible for mission operations, data processing and archiving.

"Landsat is a centerpiece of NASA's Earth Science program, and today's successful launch will extend the longest continuous data record of Earth's surface as seen from space," Bolden said.

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