NASA’s Commitment to Landsat

“The Landsat series of satellites is a cornerstone of our Earth observing capability. The world relies on Landsat data to detect and measure land cover/land use change, the health of ecosystems, and water availability. The President’s FY2016 request recognizes Landsat’s critical importance and sets out a multi-decadal plan for an Earth-observing architecture that ensures data continuity and reliability”

–The Honorable Charles F. Bolden Jr., Administrator National Aeronautics and Space Administration before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations U. S. House of Representatives

NASA and the Obama administration have begun a new initiative called the Sustainable Land Imaging (SLI) program. Under the umbrella of this program NASA will begin to work on a new Landsat spacecraft, Landsat 9. Landsat 9 will follow the design for Landsat 8, which was launched in 2013, but its design and construction would correct “small design flaws” in Landsat 8’s sensor instruments. This new satellite is scheduled for launch in 2023.

In the interim, NASA will also begin construction on a Thermal-Infrared Free-Flyer satellite that will fill the possible data gap when Landsat 7 runs out of propellant in 2019. The target date for this mission is “as soon as feasible, likely in 2019,” according to NASA’s budget documents. NASA is requesting $78.9 million for the SLI program in 2016. The White House budget is seeking $18.5 billion for NASA in FY2016, a $519 million increase from last year. For more information, click here.

Regarding Landsat 8, after detecting anomalous data from its Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) data processing was suspended in December of 2014. After switching to a redundant system, TIRS data collection recently resumed on March 6th, 2015. For more information on this, click here.

The Western States Water Council has long been a supporter of NASA and its Applied Science and Research programs that work to solve water-related questions and issues. Please see the WSWC policy position #356.