Landsat 5 – it takes a lickin and keeps on tickin

In an era of ‘overnight success’ and disposable products, try to find a better example of dependability, economy, and achievement than the Landsat 5 earth observing satellite. Landsat 5 was launched on March 1, 1984. Because of the sophisticated equipment on board, engineers anticipated a life of a mere two years, with a goal of three years of collecting data over the landmass of the planet. Instead, Landsat 5 has become the longest continuously serving observation system in the U.S. civilian fleet.

Once slated for de-commissioning, Landsat 5 continues to acquire a new scene every 23 seconds, collecting over 2.9 million images during its 110,000 orbits. Landsat 5 observed the disaster at Chernobyl, the re-growth of the Mt St Helens region, and countless, floods, fires, droughts and other major changes to the surface of the earth. And there’s more….it continues to operate and the global science community has reason to rely on the ‘workhorse’ satellite. Newer satellites have developed malfunctions, but lowly Landsat 5 keeps providing the vital earth information needed by scientists and managers. For more, call Ron Beck at 303-202-4763 or email him at

Source: USGS

Some suggested LANDSAT resources: