First Light from Landsat 9
- Technical support:
- Amy Moran
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The first image collected by Landsat 9, on Oct. 31, 2021, shows remote coastal islands and inlets of the Kimberly region of Western Australia. In the top middle section of the image, the Mitchell River carves through sandstone, while to the left Bigge Island and the Coronation Islands stand out in the Indian Ocean. Australia is a major international partner of the Landsat 9 program, and operates one of the Landsat Ground Network stations in Alice Springs.
Sediments swirl in Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair in this Landsat 9 image of both Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, from Oct. 31, 2021. The Great Lakes serve as sources of freshwater, recreational activity, transport, and habitat for the upper-midwestern United States, and water quality remains a high priority. In warmer months, Landsat 9 observes swirls of green algae which can become harmful algal blooms. Landsat 9 will be able to help scientists and resource managers identify those blooms early, identifying areas to test further.
In the Western U.S., in places like the Navajo Nation as seen in this Landsat 9 image, Landsat and other satellite data help people monitor drought conditions and manage irrigation water. With only 85 rain gauges to cover more than 27,000 square miles, satellite data and climate models are filling the gaps to help the Navajo Nation monitor drought severity.
The city of Kathmandu, Nepal, seen at the bottom left of this Landsat 9 image, lies in a valley south of the Himalayan Mountains between Nepal and China. Glaciers, and the lakes formed by glacial meltwater, are visible in the top middle of this image. In High Mountain Asia, many communities rely on meltwater from glaciers – and Landsat can help track how those glaciers are changing in a warming climate. Previous studies with Landsat have documented shrinkage of Himalayan glaciers, as well as changing lake levels the adjacent Tibetan plateau. From Oct. 31, 2021, the first day of data collection for Landsat 9.
The white sands of Pensacola Beach stand out in this Landsat 9 image of the Florida Panhandle of the United States, with Panama City visible under some popcorn-like clouds. Landsat and other remote sensing satellites help to track changes to U.S. coastlines, including urban development and potential impacts of rising sea levels. From Oct. 31, 2021, the first day of data collection for Landsat 9.
Landsat 9 carries two instruments designed to work together to capture a broad range of wavelengths: the Operational Land Imager 2, or OLI-2, which detects nine different wavelengths of visible, near-infrared and shortwave-infrared light; and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2, or TIRS-2, which detects two wavelengths of thermal radiation to measure slight changes in temperature. Data from both instruments are shown in the two pairs in this image.
The top left shows snow and glaciers in the Himalayan mountains, leading to the flat Tibetan Plateau to the north. The top right shows the same area in thermal data from the TIRS-2 instrument. Blue-white color indicates relatively cooler surface temperatures, while orange-red indicates warmer surface temperatures.
The bottom left shows the brown and green rectangles of farm fields in southern Ontario, sandwiched between Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. The white and grey rectangles in the bottom of the image are produce greenhouses, which show up as blue-ish (relatively cooler) spots in the TIRS-2 image on the right.
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Please give credit for this item to:
- Amy Moran (GST) [Lead]