Governments, researchers and environmental scientists stand to benefit from the newly launched Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), now officially known as Landsat 8.
This was said by Simon Hughes, the Director of Hatfield Consultants Africa, an environmental consultancy institution in Botswana.
Landsat 8 was launched last week by the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to continue the mission to provide global coverage of the earth on regular basis (every 16 days). This mission is part of an on-going earth observation programme for monitoring the surface of the earth that has been running since 1972. Hughes said as a long-time project, it can help identify trends or monitor the results of land use management decisions.
“The launch of this satellite has profound implications on monitoring of the environment globally, including Botswana, as it will provide opportunities to utilise free satellite data for operational observation of key parameters,” said Hughes.
Living in a time of worrying climate changes, the environmentalist said when this project can be adopted by governments and used precisely with deep research it can help in detection of water presence or absence, vegetation, erosion and cloud-cover permitting. Hughes said the useful data will be freely available from USGS as was the case in recent years. However, he said the only limitation is the cost of downloading and processing the data.
“The satellite provides image data with the same profile as its predecessors – 7 bands of the electro-magnetic spectrum with a spatial resolution of 30 metres, and a 15 metre black and white band, plus 4 new bands,” said Hughes.
He added that in some countries around the world this type of imagery is used to operationally monitor irrigation of crops to determine if farmers are managing and using water appropriately or if they are adhering to agreed licensed volumes of water use. Hughes said this can also benefit the farming sector.
He pointed out that it is his mission ‘to open the eyes of Batswana’ to the power and value of spatial information, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (aerial and satellite imagery). He said he also encourages the Government of Botswana Ministries and Departments to embrace and utilise these techniques. Hughes noted that like many scientific, technical and management activities environmental sustainability relies on access to information in order to make informed decisions.
He noted that the environmental information also provides a level of consistency that is difficult to maintain for field monitoring, especially when institutions face capacity constraints.
Researches show that the world’s population surpasses seven billion people and that the impact of human society on the planet is increasing. According to USGS, continuation of Landsat’s four-decade look at Earth will help monitor those impacts and more accurately forecast future environmental change.
USGS said the Landsat data can assist in a broad range of specialists in managing the world’s food, water, forests, and other natural resources for a growing world population.