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Explained: How NASA’s Landsat 9 satellite will help combat climate change

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Landsat 9's cutting-edge tech will provide more accurate images and data that will help scientists gauge the intensity of events like forest fires and droughts as well as closely study the patterns of ice melt in the polar regions, among other things. The satellite offloads its data to ground station every few hours.

Explained: How NASA’s Landsat 9 satellite will help combat climate change
The US space agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), successfully launched its Earth monitoring satellite Landsat 9 on September 27 from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The satellite will become instrumental in collecting images of Earth’s land surface and it will provide data which could assist in formulating strategies to combat climate change.
The Landsat 9 will help in monitoring the Earth’s health.  It will also assist to manage the natural resources and to make science-based decisions to combat climate change, according to NASA.
“Success! Landsat 9 launched today to continue a nearly 50-year legacy of monitoring the health of our planet. A partnership with USGS, the satellite will help people manage Earth's natural resources with science-based decisions,” tweeted NASA on September 28.
The first Landsat satellite was launched in 1972 but it was only in 2008 that the data obtained by Landsat satellites was made publicly available. The information placed in the public domain helped researchers and scientists analyse the conditions of forests, coral reefs, water quality and melting of glaciers.
What is Landsat 9?
The Landsat 9 satellite, loaded with cutting-edge tech, can trace more colour shades with greater depths, making it easier for scientists to gather more details about the planet.
The satellite comes with two major pieces of equipment -- Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI 2) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS 2). These instruments will help in measuring different wavelengths of light on Earth’s surface. OLI 2 has the capability to trace the light that humans cannot see.
It captures the sunlight that hits the Earth’s surface to understand the visible, infra-red and near-infrared portions of the spectrum. TIRS 2 is used for understanding Earth’s surface temperature and it comes with telescopes and photosensitive detectors that help in capturing thermal radiation.
These instruments capture images across 185 km as the satellite orbits.
Monitoring climate change
Researchers can predict if regions are under threat via the images produced by Landsat. For example, in case of drought or a forest fire, Landsat images will help with details on the intensity of the event. The satellite is also programmed in such a way that it would intimate if there’s a chance for algal bloom to attack water bodies.
Landsat can track the patterns and movements of ice melt in the Arctic and Antarctica regions, a looming threat for the planet. It will enable researchers better gauge the severity of the climate crisis.
The satellite gets in touch with the ground station every few hours to offload its data. Karen St. Germain, Director, Earth Science Division at NASA headquarters, said, “For nearly 50 years, Landsat satellites observed our home planet, providing an unparalleled record of how its surface has changed over timescales from days to decades. Through this partnership with USGS, we’ve been able to provide continuous and timely data for users ranging from farmers to resource managers and scientists. This data can help us understand, predict, and plan for the future in a changing climate.”
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