Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Scientists delighted by first images from EO-1 satellite
Posted: December 23, 2000

Scientists have seen the first images from NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) spacecraft, now flying in formation with the Landsat 7 satellite, and are excited with the performance of the instruments.

Landsat EO-1
This side-by-side image of Alaska compares an image taken by Landsat 7 (on the left) with one by EO-1's Advanced Land Imager in the panchromatic band (on the right) under nearly identical lighting and surface conditions.
Scenes of Alaska taken by EO-1's Advanced Land Imager (ALI) in the panchromatic (PAN) band are of considerably better quality than the PAN band image taken by Landsat 7 under nearly identical lighting and surface conditions almost one year earlier to the day (November 24, 2000), said EO-1 Mission Scientist Dr. Stephen Ungar.

"The EO-1 PAN band has a higher spatial resolution (10-meter pixel size as opposed to 15-meter for Landsat 7) and a better "signal-to-noise" ratio enabling it to reliably make more sensitive measurements," said Ungar. "EO-1's PAN band is located in a region of the light spectrum which allows for better discrimination on the ground than available with the Landsat 7 PAN band," he added.

EO-1 was launched on November 21, 2000 at 1:24 p.m. EST aboard a Delta 7320 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Sixty minutes after launch, EO-1 was deployed into a 438-mile orbit.

The ALI instrument is designed to produce images directly comparable to those of the Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+) of Landsat 7. Ultimately, it is anticipated that ALI will establish data continuity with previous Landsats and demonstrate advanced capability and innovative approaches to future land imaging.

Hyperspectral image of a mountainous region of Argentina taken on December 1, 2000. Red colors show areas of new spring growth. One of the unique aspects of the Hyperion Instrument on EO-1 is it's ability to "pull out" spectral features in unprecedented detail. Uses for the new technology include land use studies, mineral resource assessment, coastal processes research, and climate change studies.
The Hyperion instrument onboard EO-1 also has taken its first images, and scientists are delighted with the results. An image taken in South America in a mountainous region of Argentina shows area of new spring growth.

The Hyperion instrument is able to see the Earth more "completely" and has a higher spectral resolution than previous instruments. The uses for an instrument than can make such fine distinctions include studies of land use, changes in land cover, mineral resource assessment, research into coastal processes, changes in the atmosphere and more.

In 1996, NASA started the New Millennium Program (NMP), designed to identify, develop and flight validate key instrument and spacecraft technologies that can enable new or more cost-effective approaches to conducting science missions in the 21st century. The first of three New Millennium Program Earth-orbiting missions is EO-1, an advanced land-imaging mission that will demonstrate new instruments and spacecraft systems.

EO-1's primary focus is to develop and test a set of advanced technology land imaging instruments. However, many other key instruments and technologies that will have wide ranging applications for future satellite development are also part of the mission.

Future NASA spacecraft are expected to be smaller, lighter and less expensive than current versions, and the EO-1 mission will provide the on-orbit demonstration and validation of several subsystem technologies to enable this transition.

EO-1 is flying in formation with the Landsat 7 satellite, taking a series of the same images. Comparing these "paired scene" images is used to evaluate EO-1's land imaging instruments.