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Monday’s Atlas V Launch Gives Boost to NASA’s Satellite Surface Mapping Program

Since 1972, Landsat mission has been tracking manmade and natural changes in Earth's landscaping

An Atlas V rocket will launch a satellite into space Monday as part of the ongoing NASA and U.S. Geological Survey partnership to monitor manmade and natural changes in the Earth’s landscape.

Vandenberg Air Force Base is launching the rocket and its payload between 10:02 and 10:50 a.m. from Space Launch Complex-3. Members of the public can watch the launch from Providence Landing Park at 699 Mercury Avenue in Lompoc, which will open at 8:30 a.m.

There will be representatives from NASA, the USGS and the 30th Space Wing on hand to answer questions, and Mobility, a band from the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West, will perform.

The event is free, but there is limited parking at Calvary Baptist Church, 3355 Constellation Road in Lompoc.

Monday’s send-off is the 36th Atlas V mission launch, according to United Launch Alliance, which provides launch services. ULA — a venture jointly owned by Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin — expects to launch Atlas V rockets again in May and August from the West Coast.

The Landsat Data Continuity Mission has gathered data from satellites since 1972 to create the longest record of Earth’s surfaces as seen from space, according to NASA.

The LDCM is the eighth satellite in the Landsat series and its observations will be critical for areas like energy and water management, forest monitoring, human and environmental health, urban planning, disaster recovery and agriculture, according to NASA and the USGS, which jointly manage the program.

The LDCM was built and tested by Orbital Sciences Corp. in Arizona and was taken to Vandenberg Air Force Base in December. It carries an Operational Land Imager built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and a Thermal Infrared Sensor built by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. After the satellite is launched, the USGS will take operational control as it collects, archives and distributes data. The LDCM satellite will be renamed as Landsat 8, according to NASA.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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