The Landsat 8 satellite launched from the Vandenberg Airforce Base in California on Feb 11th. Over the past 40 years, the Landsat program has provided imagery for public and private use. This newest satellite provides a more accurate way to capture data - imagine using a pushbroom to slowly push dirt along the floor as opposed to constantly sweeping from side to side. For more detail on the mission and technical details, please click here.
Most importantly, Landsat data is used for various public and private means. The data is used for things such as urbanization, deforestation, climate change and the carbon footprint,. Most people have interacted with the data via the satellite filter on Google Maps, which almost everyone does when they are zooming in on the house they grew up in just to eek out that last bit of childhood.
I was able to watch the launch with a bunch of fellow space enthusiasts at the NASA Goddard Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. We ate hilariously bad food, attacked the gift store, and most importantly talked to the scientists on the Landsat team about the launch. For my coverage of the 40th anniversary of the Landsat program during the summer of 2012, please click here.