Latest Earth Satellite Launches From CA Coast

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) -- A rocket carrying an Earth-observing satellite has launched on a mission to track changes to the planet's natural resources.

The Atlas V rocket lifted off Monday morning under mostly clear skies from Vandenberg Air Force Base along California's central coast.

The $855 million Landsat mission, headed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, is the eighth in a series that began in 1972. For four decades, the Landsat satellites have tracked retreating glaciers, drought conditions, agricultural crop output and deforestation.

The newest Landsat carries instruments that are more powerful than its predecessors. It'll send back images to ground stations in South Dakota, Alaska and Norway.