Today, NASA launched the eighth Landsat satellite into space, continuing the tradition of tracking various environmental changes and resource usage around Earth. The Landsat program has been around since 1972, and has been providing quality data of our planet for over four decades now. The satellite officially launched at 1:02 pm ET from from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Landsat 8 rode on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket hurdling at 1,700 mph into space. In fact, the rocket burned so much fuel in a short amount of time, that less than five minutes after lift-off, the rocket weighed 25% of its original lift-off weight. One the satellite gets settled in space, it'll cruise along at around 428 miles in a polar orbit.
The Landsat program is a joint venture between NASA and the US Geological Survey. NASA essentially provides the rockets and the technology to get the satellite up and running, while the US Geological Survey takes all of the images that are collected and turns them into information and data that everyone can interpret.
Over the next three months, NASA will be operating the satellite to make sure it functions as necessary. Then, after all operations appear steady, NASA will hand over the satellite to the US Geological Survey, where' they'll take over control of the spacecraft in order to collect information about the planet.