In late September, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey launched the Landsat 9 satellite, which was built, tested and fitted with instruments by Northrop Grumman in Gilbert. Now, the spacecraft has sent back its first images, including some shots of the Grand Canyon State.
Landsat 9's capacity to discern 64 times as many color shades as its predecessor was evident in its first images, which included observations of the Four Corners area of Arizona.
Images compiled from the craft's multiple visible and infrared bands will inform nearly 50 years of Earth observations. They will help track changes in crop health, irrigation use, water quality, wildfire severity, deforestation, glacial retreat and urban expansion. Following Landsat 9's 100-day shakedown, NASA will hand operations over to USGS. In tandem with Landsat 8, the craft will cover the globe every eight days.
The western United States is facing extreme drought. This is leading to some cities to look for alternative sources for drinking water. Water sources like the Colorado River are facing strains due to drought and overuse. But some cities in the west are looking into opportunities to recycle wastewater into drinking water. Cities are already required to send treated wastewater back to its source so other communities can keep using the same water.
Arizona already has a permanent plant in Scottsdale that uses membranes, UV light, and reverse osmosis to treat wastewater into a drinkable form. The bipartisan infrastructure bill includes $1 billion designed to fund water reuse projects. And the reconciliation package currently being debated has over $100 million in grants to fund alternative water sources.
The U.S. Drought Monitor has more than 90% of the West still facing some form of drought. While many are hoping for a wet winter to bring some relief, that’s not in Arizona’s forecast.
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