American space agency Nasa is launching the Landsat-9 satellite, which has been developed in collaboration with US Geological Survey (USGS), on Monday. The space agency said that the launch is scheduled to take place at 2.11pm EDT (11.41pm IST).
The satellite will be launched on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
Nasa said in a release that Landsat-9 will continue the legacy of monitoring Earth’s land and coastal regions that began with the first satellite in the series in 1972.
Here are the key points about the Landsat-9 launch today:
• According to Nasa, Landsat-9 will join its sister satellite, Landsat 8, in orbit in collecting images from across the planet every eight days.
• The US Space Force’s Space Launch Delta 30 has predicted a 90 per cent chance of favourable weather conditions for the launch. The primary weather concerns are ground winds.
• Landsat-9 will carry two instruments: the Operational Land Imager 2, which collects images of Earth’s landscapes in visible, near-infrared and shortwave infrared light, and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2, which measures the temperature of land surfaces.
• Images from Landsat-9 will be added to nearly 50 years of free and publicly available data from the mission – the longest data record of Earth’s landscapes taken from space.
• The advance equipment onboard Landsat-9 will give a boost to space scientists’ ability to measure changes on the global land surface, said Nasa. It will allow the scientists to separate human-induced and natural causes of change on land surface, the agency added.
• Two small research satellites will also hitch a ride in the spacecraft’s secondary payload adapter.
• The Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE) from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Cusp Plasma Imaging Detector (CuPID) from Boston University, are shoebox-sized spacecraft, each measuring approximately 8 inches by 4 inches by 13 inches.
• Nasa said that CUTE aims to provide a better understanding of atmospheric loss on all types of planets by measuring atmospheric escape rates from giant exoplanets.
• CUTE will target 10 to 12 exoplanets during its eight-month science mission, conducting a survey of heavy elements, such as iron and magnesium, escaping from the atmospheres of the most extreme planets in the galaxy.
• CuPID, meanwhile, will study how energy from the Sun is deposited into the Earth’s magnetosphere – a protective bubble around our home planet, the space agency added. This mission could solve long-standing questions on space weather and solar wind magnetosphere coupling, said Nasa.