Transcripts of Jim_Irons_Interview

Landsat is the granddaddy of earth observing satellite programs. It's a 40 year long program that's jointly managed by NASA and our partners the U.S. Geological Survey. This program has launched a series of 7 satellites over the past 40 years, each of these satellites has orbited the earth collecting images of the global land surface. One strip of images at a time as it orbits. It takes each satellite about 16 days well not about exactly 16 days, to cover the entire surface of the earth then those orbital paths will repeat so we can make new observations of the areas and track how they change over time. We're learning all aspects of how our landscape is changing. We're looking at urban areas and as our population migrates a greater proportion of our population migrates into cities. We see urban development and growth and expansion all over the globe. We are tracking forests and forest disturbance and forest, deep forestation. One ecosystem that's particularly susceptible to deforestation or the tropical rainforest where a great swaths of the forest are being converted to agriculture to feed a growing population. The data are used to look at glaciers and track how those glaciers are receeding through the impacts of climate change. For example we've been able to determine that a, over 95% of the glaciers of last are currently receding and so it just runs a whole gamut of landscapes change. (Pause) Yes. The landsat data are able to observe the impact of drought on vegetation, on crops growing in the fields. We can see when those crops are healthy and green, and we can also see when they begin to dry out and become brown. Further because we have a channel on the sensors that measure thermal infrared energy which is a depends on the temperature of the surface; we're able to differentiate hot dry fields from irrigated fields which are being cooled by evaporation from the soil and from through plants process called transpiration. And so you know there's two aspects of it, we can watch the damage to the crops we can also track the use of our water resources in order to try to irrigate those crops, particularly in years like this year when the waters scarce. (Pause) (Pause) Well the images are indeed awesome they depict the complexity and beauty of our earths landscapes but theres so much more than just pretty pictures. These are these images are composed of scientific measurements that allow us to accurately and accurately track the conditions of the land surface and how they change and as I mentioned before in forests around cities, in our farming areas in our glacial areas are ice sheets, ice fields and just look at the whole region at a scale where we can differentiate natural variation from human impacts. Well we enjoy using the images of a urban time series of urban images showing the growth of Las Vegas because there's a stark contrast between the developed areas and the surrounding dessert that really pops when you show these images. So that Las Vegas is like a lot of cities its population has increased dramatically over over the last 40 years as that occurs development spreads out into the dessert. Yards and golf courses are irrigated so we see vegetation developing where there was not developing there was not vegetation before we can watch Lake Meade being drawn down over the years as the demand for water increases by the residents of the city. And so its just a great illustration of of the processes that are occuring across the world. (Pause) As with many glaciers across the world, Greenland's great glaciers that go into the ocean are receding and so in conjunction with other satellite measurements we can determine how much of Greenland and its ice sheet and its glaciers are being released from the ice sheet and going into the oceans and increasing the content of the oceans. So, landsat is particularly useful particularly illustrative of the glacier recession because it just shows up very clearly in the images. Well first of all we're excited to be celebrating the 40th Anniversary next Monday of the launch of Landsat I, the first landsat satellite on July 23,1972 that's the year I graduated from high school, so you know its a long program. Part of that celebration will be releasing a selection of Top 10 Landsat Images that were chosen by Blue Ribbon panel. Out of the over 3 million images landsat images that are archived by the U.S. Geological Survey and made available to the general public for free. Also I am very excited because I've been working on the next mission, what's currently called the landsat data continuity mission. Its on schedule for a February 11th 2013 launch and it will put into orbits some advance technologies that will improve the performance of the system relative to earlier landsat satellites while still collecting data that's comparable and compatible with the data collected by the earlier satellites. When its launched our partners the U.S. Geological Survey will assume the lead responsibility for satellite operations and they've informed us at NASA that they intend to rename the satellite Landsat VIII to be consistent with the naming convention of the earlier landsat satellites. Thank you.