August 18, 2017 – Upcoming Solar Eclipse & Landsat Acquisitions

As Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 orbit the earth and acquire data, the Landsat Flight Operations Team (FOT) engineers had to determine if and how the upcoming August 21 solar eclipse would affect Landsat acquisitions over the United States.  While the longest period at which the moon would obscure the sun's entire surface from any given location along its path to be about 2 minutes and 40 seconds, the FOT and engineers have concluded there will be no impact to Landsat operations or validity of the science data acquired during the solar eclipse event.

The map below displays Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 acquisition paths that are scheduled on August 21, along with the solar eclipse route. The solar eclipse will move from west to east, while Landsat acquisitions move from east to west.  The table provides the acquisition times along the path the eclipse will cross. As you can see, no acquisitions will occur when the solar eclipse intersects any scheduled Landsat paths. Only Landsat 7 (during path 32) comes close to capturing the solar eclipse, missing the event by just 23 minutes.

This map shows the August 21, 2017 acquisition swaths of Landsat 7 (yellow) and Landsat 8 (blue), along with the solar eclipse path, shown in red.

  Landsat 7 Landsat 8
Path 16  Satellite Acquisition Time

11:53am EDT
(15:53 GMT)

 Eclipse Time

2:48pm EDT
(18:48 GMT)

Path 24  Satellite Acquisition Time  

10:42am CDT
(15:42 GMT)

 Eclipse Time

1:18pm CDT
(18:18 GMT)

Path 32  Satellite Acquisition Time

12:31pm CDT
(17:31 GMT)

 Eclipse Time

12:54pm CDT
(17:54 GMT)

Path 40  Satellite Acquisition Time  

12:19pm MDT
(18:19 GMT)

 Eclipse Time

11:31am MDT
(17:31 GMT)

While Landsat 8 has the ability to acquire ‘off-nadir’ data up to 15 degrees, in order to capture a view of the solar eclipse, an off-nadir ‘roll-out’ of 62 degrees would be necessary.

This is the first time the path of totality exclusively crosses the continental United States from coast to coast since June 8, 1918. It's also the first continent-wide eclipse to be visible only from the United States since 1776.

For more information about viewing the solar eclipse, and to read about important eye safety, please visit NASA’s Total Solar Eclipse website.