WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- NASA's latest Earth-observation satellite, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), roared into space on Monday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the U.S. space agency announced.
The spacecraft is the eighth satellite in the history of the Landsat program, a joint NASA/United States Geological Survey ( USGS) project that has been monitoring forest loss, glacial retreat, urban sprawl and other phenomena continuously since Landsat 1 lifted off in July 1972.
The satellite will eventually settle into a polar orbit with an altitude of 438 miles (705 kilometers). NASA will conduct key checkouts of the spacecraft over the next three months, after which it will be turned over to the USGS for operations and renamed Landsat 8.
"Landsat is a centerpiece of NASA's Earth Science program, and today's successful launch will extend the longest continuous data record of Earth's surface as seen from space," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.
"This data is a key tool for monitoring climate change and has led to the improvement of human and biodiversity health, energy and water management, urban planning, disaster recovery and agriculture monitoring -- all resulting in incalculable benefits to the U.S. and world economy," said Bolden.