Last week, NASA retired one of its greats — the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite. Initially commissioned for the agency’s New Millennium Program, EO-1 proved to be the satellite that could. Its one-year mission turned into nearly 17.
EO-1 was never meant to be such a star. In fact, its original purpose was to test and refine technologies for future Earth imaging. It was launched on November 21, 2000 with 13 new technologies, three of which had never been tested. Many of the most stunning images were capture by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI).
“EO-1 has changed the way spectral Earth measurements are being made and used by the science community,” Betsy Middleton, EO-1’s project scientist said in a NASA news release.
But EO-1 did more than just prove a few instruments. During it’s mission the satellite captured a bunch of remarkable images, many of them firsts for a satellite, including the first to map of an active lava flow, first to measure a facility’s methane leak, and the first track Amazon forest regrowth.
Though the satellite has been retired, it will continue to orbit Earth until it burns up in the atmosphere in the 2050s. “We’ll probably just see EO-1 as a streak in the sky as it disintegrates,” Middleton said.
Not surprisingly, SpaceX is thinking big with Starlink, its space-based global broadband network. This week, the company received FCC approval to launch 7,518 satellites into a low-Earth orbit for its satellite internet service.
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