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Ball Aerospace Honored by NASA and U.S. Department of Interior with Pecora Award for OLI Imaging Instrument Aboard Landsat 8

Nov. 18, 2014

NASA and the U.S. Department of the Interior have recognized the Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. imaging instrument on Landsat 8 for improving the ability of scientists, land use managers, fire fighters, and other beneficiaries to better understand the Earth's features, and continuing Landsat's 40-year record of global observations. The two agencies presented the esteemed William T. Pecora Award to the Landsat 8 mission team at the 23rd William T. Pecora Memorial Remote Sensing Symposium in Denver on Tuesday.

Ball Aerospace designed and built the Operational Land Imager (OLI) aboard Landsat 8 – an instrument that represents a significant advancement in Landsat sensor technology by employing a more reliable design that improves performance. The critical signal to noise ratio is dramatically improved aboard Landsat 8 due to the 7,000 detectors installed on OLI versus approximately 100 on previous instruments. This innovative design provides better characterization of the land cover, giving Landsat data users much more detail than they have been able to see before. The data is highly calibrated to integrate with historic data records for global change detection.

Ball's Operational Space Vice President and General Manager Cary Ludtke told Forbes magazine in a recent interview that the Landsat science community couldn't be happier with the results they're seeing from the latest Landsat instrument. "Testimonials from the user community reinforce the value of this instrument to both the Landsat legacy and the future of land remote sensing."

The Pecora Awards honor outstanding contributions in the field of remote sensing and its application to understanding Earth. The award was established in 1974 to honor the memory of William T. Pecora, former director of the U.S. Geological Survey and Interior undersecretary. Pecora was a visionary in recognizing the value of taking images of the Earth from space, which led to the establishment of the Landsat satellite program more than 40 years ago. 

The Landsat program is a series of Earth-observing satellite missions jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. For decades, the Landsat mission has gathered multispectral imagery of the Earth from space. These continuous global land surface observations are crucial to detecting the changes over time taking place on the Earth's surface.