A Landsat satellite was launched one Monday (Feb. 11, 2013) from the Vanderberg Air Force Base in California. The LDCM or Landsat Data Continuity Mission joined the 15-year-old Landsat 7 and the 30-year-old Landsat 5. Since satellites are attracted by earth’s gravity, the launch of new satellites is important to preserve the continuity of the image registration.
Landsat satellites have been providing visible and infrared images from Earth for nearly 40 years. The images from Landsat Mission describe physical process related to vegetation, ecosystem, and human impact on Earth. Due to the extended period of registered images, Landsat Mission is a strong reference to understand climate change, and anthropogenic impact on the environment.
Landsat LCDM accommodates two instruments dedicated to take multispectral and infrared images for a design life of 5 years. Unfortunately, the spatial resolution for multi-spectral images is 30 m, the same as in Landsat 7. Infrared images come with a 100 m spatial resolution.
Landsat LDCM on water resources
Engineers, scientists and environmentalists rely on satellite imagery to understand vegetation development and its related water demand. Landsat imagery data products are also helpful to determine wetlands that can be a calibration objective on groundwater flow modeling.
Wetland delimitation on an Andean basin using Landsat derived data products.
Most vegetation related data products from Landsat Mission are the NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) and EVI (Enhanced Vegetation Index). Actual Evapotranspiration can be calculated by the METRIC algorithm. For land use and land cover determination, there is a series of algorithms that rely on spatial analysis of spectral bands. If you want to study glaciers and lakes, there are other specialized data products.
Landsat LCDM images will be provided for free by Reverb ECHO from NASA:
Landsat LDCM will continue being useful for water resources evaluation and ecosystem preservation. Web interfaces as ECHO Reverb will provide imagery and data products.
30 m multispectral image resolution is enough for regional modeling. Local hydrogeological studies will require finer spatial resolution.