The latest satellite in the Landsat series was launched into orbit last week, marking an important new stage in Australia’s collaboration with the United States Geological Survey in relation to international satellite missions.
The new satellite launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, USA, and will continue the almost 40 years of continuous land observation performed by the Landsat series, including capturing images of the Australian landscape and surrounding regions.
“Earth-observing satellites like this one are estimated to contribute $3.3 billion annually to Australia’s Gross Domestic Product,” Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP, said.
“The data they capture supports a wide range of activities including emergency response and management of floods and fires, mineral exploration, urban planning and regional development”.
Geoscience Australia, the Australian Government’s geoscience agency, collects, archives and publishes data from Landsat satellites to support management of Australia’s often challenging landscape.
“These satellites not only give us a view of what is currently taking place, but they also give us the ability to cost-effectively monitor changes to the landscape over time,” Minister Ferguson said.
“A recent example is The National Flood Risk Information Project, which uses data from the Landsat series to map where floods have occurred over time. This information will support local and state governments to protect communities and businesses by better managing development in flood prone areas.
”Application of the Landsat archive also extends to monitoring climate change in our region through government programs such as the National Carbon Accounting System. This program uses satellite images to measure changes in vegetation over time, which is an important component in accounting for Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“This new satellite in the Landsat series follows Landsat 5 which was used to produce the first comprehensive maps of the Great Barrier Reef, and provided valuable insight into drought conditions, and major fire and flood disasters.
“Australia’s partnership in this new satellite is a significant step forward in our commitment to working with the United States to deliver civilian uses of space”.
The new satellite will undergo approximately three months of testing following which it will be officially renamed Landsat 8.
Imagery of the launch of the new satellite can be found here.
A video of the launch of the new satellite can be found here.