Landsat 9, a NASA satellite built to monitor the Earth’s land surface, successfully launched at 11:12 local time (19:12 BST) from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. It is the ninth imaging spacecraft in the Landsat programme, a series of Earth-observing spacecraft stretching back almost 50 years. Landsat 9 will join its sister satellite, Landsat 8, and will collect images spanning the entire planet every eight days.

In 1972, The American space agency (Nasa) partnered with the US Geological Survey (USGS) to launch their Earth Resources Technology Satellite.

The remote-sensing system has kept a continuous record of our changing planet. It has recorded the growth of megacities, changes in landscapes such as the evolving outlines of coasts, deserts or glaciers and has even been used to monitor the behaviours of animals like wildebeest and wombats.

According to a Nasa press release, “These images allow researchers to monitor phenomena including agricultural productivity, forest extent and health, water quality, coral reef habitat health, and glacier dynamics.”

“NASA uses the unique assets of our own unprecedented fleet, as well as the instruments of other nations, to study our own planet and its climate systems,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a press statement.

“With a 50-year data bank to build on, Landsat 9 will take this historic and invaluable global program to the next level,” he added.

According to US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, “As the impacts of the climate crisis intensify in the United States and across the globe, Landsat 9 will provide data and imagery to help make science-based decisions on key issues including water use, wildfire impacts, coral reef degradation, glacier and ice-shelf retreat, and tropical deforestation.”

Karen St. Germain, director of the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington said the Landsat mission has provided “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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