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From Obama seeks to raise NASA Funding (BBC News):

Nasa also wants to launch a free-flying infrared sensor to support the Landsat observations.

What is this "free-flying infrared sensor" they are referring to? I'm not sure what "free flying" means in the context of satellites, if anything.

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Free-flying means the IR sensor will be carried by a dedicated satellite, as opposed to being added to an existing satellite. From Wikipedia:

In August 2004, a memorandum from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) directed Federal agencies to place Landsat-type sensors on the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) platform.

That plan has been scuttled in favor of building a new Landsat 8 satellite specifically for the Landsat mission. This became operational in 2013. For Landsat 9 a similar discussion has been taking place, and the news article indicates that NASA again prefers to have a dedicated satellite.

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