I’m going to try something different today: real-time science, and you can follow along at home.
I’ve written here before about my love of satellite imagery as a tool for understanding a planet. Landsat 5 is the most successful Earth observation satellite ever: it was launched in 1984 with an intended three-year operating life. The satellite was finally retired in November 2011, almost 29 years after it began sending back images.
Landsat 7 is still working, but it has suffered from sensor problems since 2003, so the loss of Landsat 5 has been a huge blow to people like me who use satellite imagery for scientific research.
But not to worry: the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), soon to be known as Landsat 8, is going up today!
And here’s the real-time science part: I will be checking in throughout the day to post updates and images, as well as the link to the live video feed once it’s available. The launch is scheduled for today, Monday 11 February 2013, 10:02 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.
If you were here, you could have a rocketship cookie… I’m so excited about this! Even if it will take 100 days before imagery will be available to the public.
An hour and a half until launch, and everything looks good. Here’s the Atlas V that will be taking the LCDM into orbit.
And it’s off! Launch went beautifully, and the module is in orbit. Next burn in 50 minutes or so.
Here’s a nice BBC Science article on the Landsat launch, with some lovely images from 5/7 that illustrate well why we need this kind of long-term satellite monitoring.
You can also get official updates on LDCM from NASA.
Update 4, Thursday