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Gilbert-built Landsat 9 satellite sends first images

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.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.