A chorus of voices joined in the countdown as an Atlas V rocket launched from a fogged-in Vandenberg Space Force Base at 11:12 a.m. on September 27. The rocket, built by United Launch Alliance, carried a Landsat 9 observing satellite in its payload, a partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA.
The satellite separated successfully from the rocket a half hour later and will orbit at 438 miles above the planet. For Landsat 9, it would continue 50 years of Earth observations used in research around the globe; for Vandenberg, it was the 2,000th launch since the first in 1958.
“Landsat 9 will be our new eyes in the sky when it comes to observing our changing planet,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA. “Working in tandem with the other Landsat satellites, as well as our European Space Agency partners who operate the Sentintel-2 satellites, we are getting a more comprehensive look at Earth than ever before. With these satellites working together in orbit, we’ll have observations of any given place on our planet every two days. This is incredibly important for tracking things like crop growth and helping decision makers monitor the overall health of Earth and its natural resources.”
Since 2008, Landsat images and the embedded data have been free, publicly available, and downloaded more than 100 million times.
Read more on the Landsat 9 mission here.