Pictures of Earth from new Landsat satellite hit the Net

If you’re a geography geek, there’s something new to cheer about: Images from the latest of the U.S. government’s land surveying satellites are now available online.

Last week, the United States Geological Survey made available pictures from Landsat 8. As you can see from the image above, they are stunning.

Launched in February, Landsat 8 is, as its name implies, the eighth satellite in the USGS’s land-surveying Landsat program. The new probe is taking more than 400 images a day, which is about 150 more per day than its predecessor, Landsat 7, which was launched in April 1999.

In addition to taking more pictures a day, Landsat 8, formerly known as the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, is better geared for detecting climate changes and topographic changes. Its infrared sensor is able to take more accurate surface temperature readings than its predecessor. And it’s able to detect two new bands of spectrum, one of which will allow it to peer more deeply into oceans and rivers and the other of which will allow it to better detect cirrus clouds. It’s expected to work in tandem with Landsat 7 to map the entire surface of the earth every eight days; by itself, Landsat 8 can take pictures of the whole globe in 16 days.

NASA launched the first Landsat satellite in 1972. Images from the Landsat probes have been used to study the after-effects of natural disasters, to study land use over time and to document climate changes.

H/T to MapBox.

Photo courtesy of USGS.

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (274 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.