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Space

NASA set to launch Earth-watching satellite

Landsat 7
Artist's rendering of Landsat 7   

April 1, 1999
Web posted at: 10:03 a.m. EST (1503 GMT)

GREENBELT, Maryland (CNN) -- New high-resolution images of Earth from space will soon be available when NASA launches the Landsat 7 Earth-observing satellite on April 15.

Landsat 7 will be the third in a series of land-surface observation satellites that have revolutionized the science of environmental monitoring from space over the past 26 years.

The purpose of the Landsat program is to monitor land surface changes. Over the years, Landsat images have been used to study a wide range of processes, such as urban sprawl, deforestation, agricultural land use trends, glaciation, and volcanic activity.

The principal instrument aboard Landsat 7, called the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus, measures radiation reflected or emitted by the Earth.

Landsat image
Landsat Thematic Mapper image of Las Vegas, Nevada   

Data generated by the satellite will be used to compile a library of sun-lit, cloud-free images of the Earth's landmass.

Each day, Landsat 7 will capture and archive 250 high resolution "scenes" that will be available to scientists for research and also available for sale to the public at cost.

"We feel that the Landsat 7 spacecraft will dramatically enhance the use of remotely sensed data in our daily lives," said Landsat 7 project scientist Darrel Williams in a statement.

Landsat 7 is scheduled for launch aboard a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The Landsat program is a joint project between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.


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