The first Landsat satellite - ERTS-1. It launched on July 23, 1972.
The first fully operational Landsat image taken on July 25, 1972, inaugurating a 40-year run when the first satellite was known as the Earth Resources Technology Satellite, or ERTS.
Scientists in 1972 viewing a Landsat enlargement on a special machine in the control center. Now Landsat data is available to everyone with an Internet connection, for free. Posted July 23, 2012.
Timeline showing lifespans of the Landsat satellites.
The Aral Sea in Central Asia began disappearing in the 1960s because of the diversion of its two feeder rivers for agriculture. This series of images illustrates unintended consequences of water management decisions. From left to right, the images were produced in 1977, 1998 and 2010.
In 1988, the first publicized Landsat image of the Mexico-Guatemala border showed clear-cut forest in Mexico and untouched trees in Guatemala. This image had a profound impact on the leaders of the two nations and influenced the establishment in 1990 of Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve and other management and conservation efforts in Central America. Here is the original 1988 image of the border produced by Tom Sever and shown to the leaders of Mexico and Guatemala. The western portion is from Landsat 4 as seen on May 20, 1988, and the eastern part is from Landsat 5 on April 14, 1986.
Swirls of yellow streak a deep blue sea around a long island In the style of Van Gogh's painting "Starry Night," massive congregations of greenish phytoplankton swirl in the dark water around Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea.
Countless lakes, sloughs, and ponds are scattered throughout this scene of the Yukon Delta in southwest Alaska.
Small, blocky shapes of towns, fields, and pastures surround the graceful swirls and whorls of the Mississippi River, the largest river system in North America.
Ridges of wind-blown sand make up Erg Iguidi, an area of ever-shifting sand dunes extending from Algeria into Mauritania in northwestern Africa.
The scary face in this image is actually inundated patches of shallow Lake Eyre (pronounced "air") in the desert country of northern South Australia.
As Iraqi troops withdrew from Kuwait at the end of the first Gulf War, they set fire to over 650 oil wells. Landsat caught the largest oil spill in human history.
The Columbia Glacier in Alaska is one of many vanishing around the world. Glacier retreat is one of the most direct and understandable effects of climate change.
Beijing's expansion is representative of the dramatic urbanization and industrialization of Asia during the Landsat era.
The state of Rondonia in western Brazil is observed by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite. This timelapse shows the reduction of the forest from 2000-2010. Areas of forest cover loss (in red) during the period 2005-2010. Background image is the percent of forest cover in the year 2000, from MODIS data.
The 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption was one of the most significant natural disasters in the U.S. in the past half-century. Landsat witnessed the destruction and partial re-birth of the region.
In 1988, fire transformed Yellowstone National Park into an apparent wasteland. Landsat captured the burn scars from the fires and the progress of recovery.
The Enhanced Thermal Mapper instrument that flew aboard Landsat 7 in the cleanroom. Image posted July 23, 2012.
This image from 2011 shows the transformation of Kansas farmland from dryland, rectangular fields to circular irrigated fields from center-pivot irrigation systems. The mining of ground water for agriculture has been a significant trend globally over the last half-century, and these images of a region in Kansas highlight the trend within the United States.
A Landsat 5 image of the Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona's history. In this image, acquired on June 15, 2011 the burn scar is red, ongoing fires are very bright red, smoke is blue, water is black and dark blue and bare ground is tan. Image added July 23, 2012.
In 2007, more than 1,100 Landsat 7 images were used to create the first ever, high-resolution, true color map of Antarctica. The Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica is a virtually cloud-free, 3-D view of Antarctica's frozen landscape.
Burning in the mountains of eastern Arizona near the border with New Mexico, the Wallow Fire has become the second largest fire in Arizona history. Starting on May 29, winds and hot, dry conditions helped the fire grow quickly, burning approximately 389,000 acres when the Landsat 7 image above was acquired. The dense plume of smoke pouring north from the massive fire affected air quality as far north as Wyoming and as far east as Georgia.
An artist's rendition of the next Landsat satellite, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) that will launch in Feb. 2013