This Beautiful Patchwork US Celebrates Landsat 8's First Year in Space

A year ago, Landsat 8 rocketed into space. Since then it's been beaming back data to Earth for NASA scientists to interpret—like these beautiful patchwork picture of the US.

This series of images, acquired in August 2013 by the satellite's Operational Land Imager, were pieced together by David Roy, from South Dakota State University. The long strips are a result of the way Landsat 8 works, collecting data in 115-mile wide swaths as it passes over the planet.

Each time the satellite orbits Earth, it follows a well-defined ground track, then moves on to another, and another, before repeating the process. The predetermined paths ensure that the exact same strip of ground is recorded each time an orbit is repeated. In total, it takes 233 paths—which takes 16 days—to image the entire surface of the planet.

In turn, that translates to two or three opportunities a month for David Roy to capture a cloud-free view of each pixel in the United States. So don't be critical. [NASA]

Image Credit: NASA/David Roy