Views of the News
March 3, 2014 - Landsat 8 scans the moon
Landsat 8 was built to do something none of its predecessors had done before: look at the Moon. The Moon provides a stable data source because it is a target with practically static surface cover and no atmospheric effects. Data from on-orbit lunar imaging can be used to track the stability of the Operational Land Imager (OLI) instrument and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) aboard Landsat 8, resulting in improved calibration of the data, making good data even better.
Landsat 8 typically collects lunar data monthly near full Moon - at the lunar phase angle of about 8 degrees. Any changes to the sensor’s radiometry (measurements of light) can be detected and used to improve sensor calibration. Lunar data are collected only for calibration or other engineering purposes, so it is not normally released to the public, but USGS and NASA have decided to put out a sample dataset for those eager to look more closely at Landsat 8 lunar data.
This image is from Landsat 8’s lunar acquisition on June 24, 2013.
February 14, 2014 - New Solar farm is viewable from space
On February 11, Landsat 8 captured the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, southwest of Las Vegas, near Primm, Nevada. Officially opening this week, the giant solar-power farm spans over five square miles of federal land and includes three towers, each the height of a 40-story building, and more than 350,000 heliostat mirrors that are the size of a garage door. The mirrors reflect sunlight onto boilers located on the towers, creating steam that drives power generators. The first of its kind, it is estimated that the farm will be able to light up about 140,000 homes a year. Also noticeable in the upper right on the 2014 image is the Silver State Solar Project.
February 10, 2014 - One year and counting
It's been a full year since Landsat 8 was launched. During this time, over 160,000 images have been acquired and made available for download to users worldwide. The April 18, 2013, subset above showing Mexico City, Mexico, is a portion of the most downloaded scene to date. The full scene can be viewed in the left column. Another interesting aspect of this image is the active Popocatépetl volcano, southeast of Mexico City. More than 30 million people live within view of the volcano. For more examples of the extraordinary Landsat 8 images captured during its first year in orbit, go to landsat.usgs.gov.
December 19, 2013 - Landsat 8 Helps Reveal the Coldest Place on Earth
What is the coldest place on Earth? It’s a high ridge in Antarctica on the East Antarctic Plateau where temperatures can dip below minus 133.6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 92 degrees Celsius) on a clear winter night.
Ted Scambos, a member of the Landsat Science Team, along with other researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, discovered the lowest temperatures ever recorded on Earth using measurements from Earth-observing satellites, including Landsat 8’s Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS). The TIRS sensor can pick up thermal radiation emitted from the Earth's surface, even in areas lacking much heat. The study is an example of the intriguing science possible with Landsat 8 and the TIRS instrument.
More information about the coldest place on Earth can be found at http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/09dec_coldspot.
November 15, 2013 - Pine Island - Breaking News
A large iceberg has recently separated from the calving front of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier. The January 2011 Landsat satellite imagery above shows a series of splits along the western edge of the glacier. The same area in January 2012 shows a major break, and theNovember 13, 2013, image shows that the new iceberg (Iceberg B-31) has broken off and is moving away from the coast. Pine Island is one of the largest and fastest-moving glaciers in Antarctica. Satellite measurements have shown that the Pine Island Glacier Basin has a greater net contribution of ice to the sea than any other ice drainage basin in the world. Iceberg B-31 is estimated to be 35 kilometers by 20 kilometers (21 by 12 miles), roughly the size of Singapore, about 50 percent larger than previous icebergs in this area.
November 14, 2013 - Flooding in the Philippines
Typhoon Haiyan, also called Yolanda, struck the Philippines on Friday, November 8, destroying tens of thousands of homes and leaving more than 582,000 residents homeless, according to the Philippine government. The Landsat images above show some of the flooding caused by the typhoon along the Agno River on the island of Luzon. Over 2 million people live in the Agno River Valley.
For more information on this imagery, see the Image of the Week Gallery.
October 30, 2013 - Flooding in Cambodia
Heavy seasonal rains in October 2013 were followed by Typhoon Nari, creating substantial flooding along the Mekong and Tonlé Sap Rivers in Cambodia. The flood affected over a half million people and is believed to have destroyed approximately 750,000 acres of rice fields. The Landsat 8 images above show the drastic landscape change before and during the flooding. For more information, see the Image of the Week Gallery.
September 25, 2013 - Colorado Flooding
Parts of Colorado received nearly a year’s worth of rain in just one week in September 2013. The flooded South Platte River affected the Front Range region including Fort Collins, Greeley, Loveland, Longmont, and Boulder.
For more information, see the Image of the Week Gallery
September 3, 2013 - Landsat 8 satellite sees Rim Fire from space
Two recent images from the Landsat 8 satellite compare land conditions in the vicinity of Yosemite National Park, California, before (August 15) and during the Rim Fire (August 31). Started on August 17, the Rim Fire had burned over 219,000 acres by August 31 (an area nearly 15 times the size of Manhattan Island). Both images are false-colored using bands 6, 5, 4 to allow identification of critical vegetation and fuels information that will help firefighters and emergency managers. In the images fire appears bright red, vegetation is green, smoke is blue, clouds are white, and bare ground is tan-colored.
For more information, about Landsat imagery of the Rim Fire, see the USGS press release.
July 25, 2013 - The Stuart Creek 2 Fire
The Stuart Creek 2 Fire started June 19, 2013, near Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. When the Landsat 8 image above was captured on July 13, 2013, the fire had already burned nearly 85,000 acres. So far this summer, over 70 fires have destroyed more than 1 million acres in Alaska. Still noticeable on both images is the scar left by the 2012 Dry Creek Fire (on the left) that burned over 48,000 acres.
For more information on the image, please go to the Image of the Week Gallery