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Landsat Satellite Imagery



I spent this summer internship working in a remote sensing lab.  My job was to analyze Landsat satellite imagery in order to analyze the impact of wildfire on vegetation growth in Akagera National Park in Rwanda.  I was able to do this analysis because of the data provided by the satellite.  Satellite orbits are possible because of the strong gravitational field of the Earth and the relative masses of the satellite and the Earth.  For example, for the Landsat 8 imagery that I analyzed, the force of gravity felt by both the satellite and the Earth was equal to G(mass of the earth)(mass of Landsat 8)/(radius of Landsat's orbit)^2.  Thanks to Newton's third law, both the Earth and the satellite felt this same force due to the other's existence.  However, the mass of the Earth is exponentially greater than that of the satellite, so the satellite orbits in the Earth instead of the Earth orbiting the satellite.  This orbit takes the form of centripetal motion, where the centripetal force is equal to the force of gravity which is equal to (mass of Landsat)(velocity)^2/(radius of orbit).  This centripetal motion keeps the satellite constantly changing direction and therefore constantly accelerating.  Thanks to gravity and the laws of motion, scientists can view the Earth from above, and I was able to complete my research this summer!

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