Posted by Davina Jackson on 12 Feb 2013

Geoscience Australia – via its Minister, Martin Ferguson – has applauded the launch of another Landsat satellite by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA).

The United States launch of another Landsat (8) satellite at Vadenburg Air Base, California, on 12 February 2013. (NASA)

The United States launch of another Landsat (8) satellite at Vadenburg Air Base, California, on 12 February 2013. (NASA)

Blasted into orbit from the Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, on 12 February 2013, the latest Landsat continues almost 40 years of Earth observations by this series of spacecraft.

In a partnership with USGS, Geoscience Australia collects, archives and publishes the Landsat data and images to support Australia’s environmental management challenges.

‘These satellites not only give us a view of what is currently taking place, but they also give us the ability to cost-effectively monitor changes to the landscape over time,’ said Minister Ferguson.

‘A recent example is the National Flood Risk Information Project, which uses data from the Landsat series to map where floods have occurred over time. This information will support local and state governments to protect communities and businesses by better managing development in flood-prone areas.’

Minister Ferguson said Earth observing satellites are estimated to contribute $A3.3 billion annually to Australia’s Gross Domestic Product. The data they capture supports urban planning, regional development, mineral exploration, emergency response and monitoring and management of fires, floods and other variable environmental conditions.

Landsat information (such as vegetation imagery) also helps to monitor climate change and greenhouse gas challenges through government programs like the National Carbon Accounting System.

An earlier US satellite, Landsat 5, provided data to produce the first comprehensive maps of the Great Barrier Reef and gave insights into drought, fire and flood conditions. After three months of testing, the new satellite is expected to be officially named Landsat 8.

A video of the launch of the new satellite can be found at: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=159674761