The President’s NASA Fiscal Year 2011 budget request is now available online. The Earth Science portion of the budget includes information about the Landsat project. Key information is excerpted below. For full details see the FY11 NASA Earth Science Budget Request (PDF).

Project Descriptions and Explanation of Changes: Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM)

The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), a collaboration between NASA and the US Geological Survey, will provide moderate-resolution (15m-120m, depending on spectral frequency) measurements of the Earth’s terrestrial and polar regions in the visible, near-infrared, and thermal infrared. LDCM will provide continuity with the 34-year long Landsat land imaging data set. In addition to widespread routine use for water use monitoring, land use planning and monitoring on regional to local scales, and support of disaster response and evaluations, LDCM measurements directly serve NASA research in the Earth surface/interior, and carbon cycle, ecosystems, water cycle, and biogeochemistry focus areas. NASA’s LDCM responsibilities include development of the LDCM visible/near-infrared and thermal infrared instruments, provision of the spacecraft and launch vehicle, and design/implementation of the USGS-funded Mission Operations Element. LDCM is being managed to a target December 2012 launch date.

Explanation of Project Changes

The LDCM Project, which was approved to proceed with development in December 2009, now has a fully integrated budget including the development and accommodation of the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS). All previous life cycle costs were preliminary estimates.

Project Purpose & Parameters

Unprecedented changes in land cover and use are having profound consequences for weather and climate change, ecosystem function and services, carbon cycling and sequestration, resource management, the national and global economy, human health, and society. The Landsat data series, begun in 1972, is the longest continuous record of changes in Earth’s surface as seen from space and the only satellite system designed and operated to repeatedly observe the global land surface at moderate resolution. Landsat data are available at an affordable cost, providing a unique resource for people who work in agriculture, geology, forestry, regional planning, education, mapping, and global change research.

The purpose of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) is to extend the record of multi-spectral, moderate resolution Landsat-quality data, and to meet U.S. Government operational and scientific requirements for observing land use and land change.

LDCM is being developed for a Launch Readiness Date (LRD) that will minimize a potential data gap in the archive due to the fuel-limited life of Landsat-7. Recent analyses by the USGS and NASA have estimated the Landsat-7 mission should continue to operate through at least the end of 2012. The LDCM mission completed its Confirmation Review on November 30, 2009, and its KDP-C transition review, on December 16, 2009. Due to the high national importance of the mission and the need to maintain the continuity of the Landsat data record, NASA and USGS will implement the LDCM mission for a December 2012 launch at the 50% schedule confidence level, providing necessary budget and other resources to ensure all mission elements are ready for this launch date. A Joint Confidence Level (JCL) assessment was conducted determining the 70%-confident launch date to be June 2013, driven by the late addition of the TIRS instrument. Specifically, the LDCM Project has been directed to execute all necessary contracts and actions to accomplish the June 2013 Launch Readiness Date, including securing a launch vehicle for a launch in June 2013.

LDCM consists of a two science instruments (the Operational Land Imager and the Thermal Infrared Sensor), a spacecraft, and a mission operations element. The LDCM is in implementation and system level requirements are baselined to provide the following system-level performance parameters:

  • Earth Spatial-Temporal Coverage: 16-day repeat coverage of the global land mass.
  • Spatial Resolution: 30 meters (visible, NIR, SWIR), 120 meters (thermal); 15 meters (panchromatic).
  • Radiometric Performance: accuracy, dynamic range, and precision sufficient to detect land cover change using historic Landsat data.
  • Data: 185-km-cross-track-by-180-km-along-track multi-spectral image of Earth surface.
  • Mission Life: five years.

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