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USGS taking over satellite mission from NASA

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- The U.S. Geological Survey EROS Center in Sioux Falls will officially take over the Landsat 8 satellite mission from NASA on Thursday.

The center north of Sioux Falls is collecting at least 400 Landsat 8 scenes per day from around the world. The images are archived and made available for free download by scientists or anyone else who's interested.

NASA launched Landsat 8 into space in February. Since then, teams have been running it through a barrage of tests before placing the satellite into orbit 438 miles above the planet's surface.

The new orbiter has several advantages over its still-functioning predecessor Landsat 7, which captures just 250 images a day.

Top officials from the two agencies will be at the EROS Center on Thursday for a transition ceremony.

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