Farewell to the Landsat 5

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Land reclamation along Florida's coast. Credit: USGS, Landsat 5.

Land Reclamation Along Florida's Coast. . Credit: USGS, Landsat 5.

After more than 29 years of service, Landsat 5 received its last transmission on June 5, 2013. Originally intended for around three years of service, Landsat 5 has more than fulfilled its intended purpose. In its decades of use, Landsat 5 orbited Earth 150,000 times and transmitted more than 2.5 million images of the land and waterscapes below.

The Landsat project is a joint effort between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and provides satellite imagery from 438 miles above the Earth’s surface.

The resulting information has been used in numerous scientific and operational studies in a variety of fields: from ecological studies, to agricultural monitoring, and land management decisions.

During the last three decades, Landsat 5 has documented many historical events such as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and more recently, the Asian tsunami of 2004.

Now that USGS has officially decommissioned Landsat 5, it has been maneuvered into a lower disposal orbit, completely shut down, and its transmitter turned off.

The end of Landsat 5’s transmissions, however, does not mean an end to the Landsat project. Landsat 8, the latest of USGS and NASA’s remote sensing systems, was launched in February.åÊ It will orbit the Earth once every 99 minutes, offering data to researchers every eight days.

Those interested in seeing some of the images from the different Landsat programs, learning about upcoming missions, or offering a tribute story about Landsat 5 can visit the USGS Landsat website.