On February 11, 2013, the Atlas-V vehicle carrying the LDCM satellite (Landsat Data Continuity Mission) was launched from USS Vandenberg. The spacecraft was designed to continue the program of global space imagery acquisition that the United States has been implementing since 1972 with the help of the Landsat series.
The remote sensing equipment installed on LCDM includes a multichannel scanning radiometer OLI (Operational Land Imager) and a two-channel – IR radiometer TIRS (Thermal Infrared Sensor). The OLI instrument, developed by Ball Aerospace & Technologies, operates at nine wavelengths in the range of 0.433-2.300 μm and provides images with a maximum resolution of 15 m using advanced space imagery technologies. For their development, the experimental EO-1 satellite (launched in 2000 and equipped with the Advanced Land Imager radiometer, a prototype of the OLI radiometer) was used.
The payload of the satellite utilises a new design comprised of fewer moving elements, which will increase its reliability and service life by at least 5 years. The mapping accuracy of the resulting images is 12 m and above. Thanks to OLI, for the first time in Landsat series satellites, it is possible to make observations via two new wavelength ranges, which are crucial for studying cirrus clouds and the quality of lake and coastal waters.
The spatial landsat 8 resolution of the images obtained with the TIRS instrument is 100 m. Its main purpose is to obtain surface temperature characteristics, and to study the process of heat and moisture transfer in the interests of the agricultural sector, water management, etc.
In contrast to the equipment installed on previous Landsat satellites, TIRS provides the ability to conduct observations in not just one, but two infrared wavelength Landsat 8 band combinations. Both instruments shoot in scanning mode along the path of the spacecraft, which reduces the level of radiometric distortion in comparison with the transverse scanning instruments used on previous Landsat satellites.