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September 21, 2012 02:31 PM

New NASA Photo Satellite To Join 40-Year Mission

A fleet of picture-snapping NASA satellites that for 40 years has documented forest fires, tsunamis and everyday changes in the Earth's geography is soon getting a new member.

With Landsat 8 set for a February launch, nearly 140 scientists and engineers from more than 25 countries will gather in South Dakota next week to discuss how to best download, process and distribute the millions of data-rich images used in agriculture, education, business and government.

Since 1972, Landsats have been continuously snapping pictures as part of a 40-year mission to document the planet.

But with Landsat 7 aging and its older sibling Landsat 5 failing, a new orbiter is needed.

Landsat 8 is set to hitch a ride on an Atlas 5 rocket lifting off from California on Feb. 11.

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