Digital Geography

The status of Hyperspectral missions

The sub-title to this post could easily be “reasons to love DLR #123 (transparency)”. You’ll see why in a moment. In this post I am going to do a very brief review of the civilian hyperspectral (or imaging spectroscopy) missions, operating or planned for the near future, that will provide Earth Observation (EO) data. Let’s start in the past. Hyperspectral imagers (HSI) were first launched into space at the start of the millenium. First NASA launched Hyperion on the EO-1 platform in 2000, then ESA launched CHRIS on Proba in 2001, kick-off an exciting new millenium of advanced EO platforms.…

Landsat-8: how not to plan a mission (Part 2: the sensors)

In my previous post I described the difficult process that led to the launch of Landsat-8. Here I will comment on the two sensors, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS), that comprise the sensor package on the Landsat-8 (L8) platform. This post will come across as highly critical, in some ways it is. I do want to point out though, at the start, that I appreciate the work of NASA and the USGS in securing the future of the Landsat programme: a program of global importance. In fact the programme has been so chaotic and ad…

Landsat-8: how not to plan a mission (Part 1: policy)

I was recently reading the 2012 article by James R. Irons and colleagues describing the Landsat-8 mission (or Landsat Data Continuity Mission, LDCM, as it was then called)¹. They do a very good job in describing the mission from planning to inception. I like to think of this paper as a guide to how not to plan an Earth Observation mission. Here’s my reasoning. Landsat-8’s difficult conception The logic behind Landsat-8 (L8) is impeccable. US agencies had realised that operational remote sensing, including at the Department of Agriculture and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), not to mention science, relied on…