A Landsat 8 Yearbook: Earth Images for Everyone

By Jon Campbell

Landsat 8 has been on the job for a year now — since May 30, 2013, when NASA transferred ownership and operation of the satellite to the U.S. Geological Survey.

About 100 days before that, NASA launched Landsat 8 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on February 11. It is the latest in the Landsat series of remote-sensing satellites that have provided a continuous record of change across Earth’s land surfaces since 1972.

The volcanic blast from Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, devastated nearly 400 km2 (150 square miles) of forest within a few minutes. The 2013 image shows that much of the forest in the area has recovered. A small section on the northern slope of the volcano is still dominated by ash. Left: Landsat 2 from August 19, 1980. Right: Landsat 8 from August 20, 2013. See more image pairs like this at the Landsat 8 Yearbook website.

Scientists, land management professionals, and space enthusiasts already know that Landsat 8 is stocked with a 10-year supply of fuel, that it carries two highly sensitive observation instruments operating more precisely than before, and that the USGS now operates Landsat 8 along with older sister Landsat 7.  With two Landsat satellites on orbit, the USGS can provide data every eight days for any spot on the Earth’s land masses, supporting water managers, agricultural commodities markets, and scientists around the globe.

To mark an extremely successful first year of space operation for Landsat 8, the scientists and imagery experts at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center have selected 10 sets of images that demonstrate the broad range of changes on the land that Landsat 8 has observed in its first year and compiled them in a special collection — the Landsat 8 Yearbook.

See the Landsat 8 Yearbook here.

It features “before” and “after” sets of images that you can manipulate with a digital slider bar to see change over time. Some of the images also show the enhanced technical capabilities of the Landsat 8 spacecraft.

The interval of time between the “before” and “after” (i.e. “present”) images allows us to see and study critical changes that have occurred and continue to occur on the land. This extended timeframe is made possible by the 42-year Landsat archive of continuous and comparable Earth imagery.

Since 2008, all Landsat data are freely available to anyone on Earth.

Learn more

USGS Landsat

NASA Landsat

Landsat educational booklet (online PDF)

Reprinted from the USGS Blog.

Published Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Written by Jon Campbell

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