The Landsat 8 Launch in Quotes

February 9th, 2013 by Adam Voiland
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Editor’s note: In the coming days, we’ll update this page with the most interesting quotes we hear about Landsat 8 (The Landsat Data Continuity Mission). The newest quotes will go on the top. When we’re inspired, we’ll talk back.

“I’m excited to look at the imagery because it’s going to be sharper than we dealt with before. I tend to look at things visually, so it should be looking like hi-def TV.” —Roger Auch, USGS, in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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“We collect data with a spatial resolution of 30 meters, that is, every picture element or pixel in a Landsat image represents an area approximately 100 feet by 100 feet. That’s about the size of a baseball diamond.” —Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist, in CNET 

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“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. This data is a key tool for monitoring climate change and has led to the improvement of human and biodiversity health.” —Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, in a statement.

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“The Landsat data will allow us to understand why many natural land change processes are occurring, and what those changes and processes mean for life on land and in coastal areas,” —David Jarrett, NASA, on nbcnews.com.

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“Forest managers, for instance, use Landsat’s recurring imagery to monitor the status of woodlands in near real-time. Landsat-based approaches also now are being used in most western states for cost-effective allocation of water for irrigation. This mission will continue that vital role.” —Matthew Larsen, USGS, in SpaceFlight Now.

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“The greatest improvement we have made in the LDCM satellite is that the sensors are what’s called push-broom sensors and not what was called whisk-broom sensors. Push-broom sensors have thousands of detectors that image the Earth as the satellite passes over the surface of the Earth. The older Landsat satellites use a whisk-broom technology which is many fewer detectors scanning back and forth with a mechanical scanner,” Del Jenstrom, LDCM deputy project manager, in SpaceFlight Now.

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“The imagery is just so beautiful. I can’t believe how beautiful it is.” Kass Green, Landsat scientist, during a pre-launch press conference on 2/8/13.

EO’s comment: We agree 100 percent. Browse Landsat’s Earth as Art collections if you’re not convinced. Or just try this view of Mergui Archipelago.

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What people should understand is the value that they’re getting with Landsat is much greater than in the past. Landsat 8 is vastly superior, but the price is approximately the same in real terms as the first Landsat.” —Anthony Morse, Spatial Analysis Group, on Feb. 10, 2013.

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“I think when the Landsat satellites were first launched there was a fascination in the public with the revelation of the beauty of the landscape, and its landforms, and its geomorphology. I think that fascination has transferred a bit in more recent years to understanding the impact of our human population on that landscape.  As we’ve built up a record of observations, we’ve begun to reveal dramatic changes.” Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist, during a pre-launch press conference on 2/8/13.

EO’s comment: The growth of the Athabasca oil sands comes to mind.

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“Landsat images are not just pictures. Each pixel relates scientifically-calibrated, wavelength-specific physical values.”  Mike Wulder, Senior Research Scientist, Landsat Science Team & Canadian Forest Service, during a pre-launch press conference.

EO’s comment: If you’re  familiar with remote sensing, this will make sense.  If you’re not, download and read these two pdfs: How Landsat Images are Made & Image Compositor. They will help you understand the many layers of information embedded with each pixel of a Landsat image.

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“For me, the launch on Monday will be heart-stopping, as it will be for all of us who have been involved in this effort from cradle to ignition.”Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist during a pre-launch press conference on 2/8/13.

 EO’s comment: Us too! Our fingers are crossed.

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“Landsat allows us to see what the Earth looks like and how it has changed over time.” Mike Wulder, during a pre-launch press conference on 2/8/13.

EO’s comment: See our “World of Change” galleries of Columbia Glacier in Alaska, and the recovery of Mt. St. Helens for dramatic examples of this.

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“Our forests are being disturbed, irrigation is placing increasing demands on our scarce water resources, cities are expanding to accommodate growing populations, ecosystems are changing and glaciers are retreating in advance of climate change.  All of these changes are currently occurring at rates that unprecedented in human history.” Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist, during a pre-launch press conference on 2/8/13.

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“The high-resolution data [in Google Earth] does not have the temporal resolution that Landsat has. With the launch of Landsat 8, we’ll have pictures of the Earth *every* 8 days. You can not do that with high resolution data (from commercial satellites or aerial surveys) because the footprint is so much smaller. Kass Green, Landsat scientist during a pre-launch press conference 2/8/13.

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“We distribute over 3 million images per year now. [Prior to making the images freely available only about 15,000 images were distributed per year.]“ Thomas Loveland, senior scientist; co-chair, Landsat Science Team, during a pre-launch press conference 2/8/13.

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“Yeah, I’ll be nervous. On Monday I go out there and look at my baby sitting on top of an enormous firecracker and hope everything goes well.”’ Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist to Wired magazine.

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Not only can we see catastrophic changes or discrete events like wildfires, we can also see gradual changes like those related to vegetation stress or changes in water levels.  Mike Wulder, Senior Research Scientist, Landsat Science Team & Canadian Forest Service, during a pre-launch press conference.

EO’s comment: Look, for instance, at these fires in Mexico as seen by Landsat 5 if you want to see a catastrophic event.  If you’re in the mood for more gradual change, try this gallery showing water levels in Lake Powell. 

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“I do not think it hyperbole to suggest that all seven billion of us will benefit from the Landsat continuity mission.”  Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist, to Nature.

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“A spatially-comprehensive, temporally-deep and categorically-rich re-creation of the history of the globe since the inception of the Landsat program is now within sight.” Mike Wulder

EO’s comment: That sounds fantastic. Drop us a line when you’re done with that.  Sounds like something that might be interesting to visualize.  In the meantime, we recommend searching Visible Earth for the Landsat missions.  There’s an extraordinary amount of data to look through already.

 

2 Responses to “The Landsat 8 Launch in Quotes”

  1. @USGSLandsat says:

    My favorite quote of the week:
    With the deorbit of Landsat 5, LDCM has big shoes to fill. -Tom Loveland, USGS

    (Landsat 5 was the workhorse of the Landsat mission, operating and collecting data for 28.5 years.)

  2. Peter Curia says:

    Earth is a gift we need to protect. Perhaps Landsat 8 will help achieve this.