Well, we are absolutely thrilled here at SkyTruth that the new Landsat-8 satellite (also known in classic NASA-speak as the Landsat Data Continuity Mission) appears to be functioning perfectly following it’s flawless launch in early February. Check out these sharp-looking pics of the Colorado Front Range.
|Landsat-8 satellite image of Fort Collins, Colorado, taken on March 18, 2013. Images courtesy NASA.|
This extends a stellar run of continuous earth-observation going back to the launch of Landsat-1 in 1972. The millions of images collected since then — all publicly available, for free — constitute a remarkable record and database for measuring changes in landscapes and ecosystems around the world. Of course, here at SkyTruth we make extensive use of Landsat images to track and illustrate the impacts of human activities like coal and tar sands mining, oil and gas drilling and fracking, and logging.
Back when I started my remote-sensing career, Landsat images were sold through a for-profit company that charged $4,400 per image (even though the entire system was taxpayer-built and operated). Happily, now you can download every single Landsat image for free and do your own skytruthing. Let us know what you find!