On Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, NASA launched the Landsat Data Continuity Mission into orbit. After testing and checkout it will be renamed Landsat 8, handed off to the United States Geological Survey, and will continue the venerable mission to observe our green planet. Its task is to “extend more than 40 years of global land observations critical to energy and water management, forest monitoring, human and environmental health, urban planning, disaster recovery and agriculture.”
I expect great things from this mission…but for now, you simply must watch this amazing footage, taken from a camera inside the booster rocket, showing the satellite itself decoupling from the booster and moving away into space. That’s the crescent Earth in the background, and, well, just watch for yourself. Trust me: wait for it.
Wow, that was so cool! And right out of Star Trek—in fact, the end of “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” really does end that way. Except this mission isn’t riding off into the sunset; in that Landsat footage it’s literally moving into the sunrise. An apt metaphor for the start of such an important mission. Congratulations to everyone involved on a successful launch and deployment.