First Images Released From Newest Earth Observation Satellite: Turning on New Satellite Instruments is Like Opening New Eyes
As we noted in last month’s blog the Landsat Data Continuity Mission was launched on February 11. In mid-March the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) released its first images of Earth, collected at 1:40 p.m. EDT on March 18. The first image shows the meeting of the Great Plains with the Front Ranges of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Colorado.
The two LDCM sensors collect data simultaneously over the same ground path. OLI collects light reflected off the surface of Earth in nine different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, including bands of visible light and near-infrared and short-wave-infrared bands, which are beyond human vision. TIRS collects data at two longer wavelength thermal infrared bands that measure heat emitted from the surface. By looking at different band combinations, scientists can distinguish features on the land surface. These features include forests and how they respond to natural and human-caused disturbances, and the health of agricultural crops and how much water they use. Data from LDCM will extend a continuous, 40-year-long data record of Earth’s surface from previous Landsat satellites, an unmatched, impartial perspective that allows scientists to study how landscapes all across the world change through time. Read more here.
On March 20, 2013, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, delivered his Budget to Parliament. Amid concern over energy shortages and lagging infrastructure decisions, HMG was keen to demonstrate momentum for new energy projects. The Chancellor touched on plans for new nuclear, and the next stage of the UK’s Carbon Capture and Storage competition, but reserved his focus on energy for the development of shale gas.
In his State of the Union address last month President Obama called on the nation’s high schools to forge new partnerships with colleges and employers and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math—the “STEM” subjects – calling them “the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future.” The Obama administration is taking bold steps to train 100,000 new math and science teachers in the next 10 years, and increase the number of students who receive undergraduate STEM degrees by 1 million over the next decade. With the right tools, skills, and opportunities, the next generation of coders, inventers, explorers, and engineers will help form the backbone of a strong American economy.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey has said it is vital the UK “get to grips with [its] national nuclear legacy” despite difficulties finding an underground nuclear waste store. On January 30, Cumbria County Council rejected plans to site a radioactive waste facility, prompting HMG to announce a new drive to encourage other communities to come forward. Davey said the decision by Cumbria Council was “disappointing” but he was “confident” that the program to manage radioactive waste safely will be successful and “not undermine prospects for new nuclear power stations.”
A public attitudes survey published by DECC has found that 79% of people support the UK using renewable energy to generate electricity. Solar energy had the highest level of support (at 82%), while 72% supported off shore wind and 71% supported wave and tidal energy. 64% supported on-shore wind, despite controversy over the expansion of on-shore wind farms in the UK. While only 37% of respondents supported the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity in the UK, this outweighed the 25% who signalled their opposition.
The launch of HMG’s Green Deal, a summit on climate change legislation, and the Prime Minister’s defence of his Government’s green growth agenda has marked the first few weeks of 2013. In other news, the Government has responded to a report by MPs on protecting the Artic, the UK has signalled support for greater protection for polar bears, and experts have called for a plan to protect the UK against a solar superstorm.
The longest-running satellite program recording the Earth’s landscape will launch its eighth Landstat Data Continuity Mission on February 11. Landstat’s mission is to increase public awareness of environmental and scientific issues, foster greater international cooperation and facilitate inter-disciplinary research. The U.S. does so by ensuring free and open access to Landstat data. http://ldcm.gsfc.nasa.gov
The United States has submitted a proposal to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), that would restrict commercial trade of the polar bear by the 176 signatory countries. The conference is scheduled for March 3-14 in Bangkok, Thailand. CITES is designed to enssure that international trade in animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Adoption of the proposal will place the polar bear on the list of species threatened with extinction if measures are not taken to protect it. http://www.fws.gov/international.
California’s Olinda Alpha Landfill may have contributed to observed reductions in carbon emissions. Olinda Alpha Landfill, a methane utilization projects that was recognized on January 31, by the EPA at its Annual Landfill Methane Outreach Program, in conjunction with 7 other projects, contributed to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) equal to the annual GHG emitted by 52,000 passenger vehicles. The EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program is a voluntary program that has proven to be environmentally beneficial and economically viable. Olinda Alpha Landfill garners $2.75milion dollars a year for its municipal owner, provides 400 jobs and generates 37.5 megawatts of electricity. http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/58C95FEFB11E4C6D85257B04006FF1C6.