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Latest Earth satellite to launch from Calif. coast

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An artist rendering of the Landsat 8 satellite. An artist rendering of the Landsat 8 satellite. Image Source: NASA
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) - A rocket carrying an Earth observation satellite is scheduled to blast off from the California coast on a mission to keep a continuous eye on the planet's resources.

The countdown for the Atlas V launch begins Monday morning from the Vandenberg Air Force Base along California's central coast.

The Landsat satellite is the eighth of its kind to be launched since 1972 to track glaciers, forest fires, crop production and coastlines. Unlike its predecessors, the latest carries more powerful sensors and can return more images.

For the past four decades, the polar-orbiting Landsat satellites have documented changes to Earth's surface including the effects of deforestation and urban sprawl.

The $855 million mission is managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

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