Landsat 5 tumbled out of control and power was at a critical level in the early morning of August 13. The cause for this anomaly is currently unknown and being investigated.
The spacecraft has been stabilized after the USGS Landsat Flight Operations Team initiated recovery operations. Power is still at a critical level, and the extent of damage is yet to be determined. Imaging operations are suspended until further notice.
“Landsat 5 has proven to be a remarkable success and has given the science community important information on land features of the planet,” said USGS Landsat Program manager Kristi Kline. “It was launched in 1984 and designed to last 3 years with a possible extension to five years. Incredibly it is still a valuable resource and by early 2009, it had completed over 129,000 orbits and acquired over 700,000 individual scenes.”
Landsat 5 provided data demonstrating alterations over the Chernobyl region after the nuclear power plant eruption, de-forestation of tropical rain forests, drought and flooding in the Mississippi River basin, construction of the Three Gorges dam in China, shrinking of the Aral Sea, Northern Wisconsin after a tornado pass, the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and countless forest and wildfire outbreaks.
For more information about Landsat 5 and others in the Landsat series, visit the USGS Landsat Missions Web site.
Satellites offer a wealth of information pertinent for water and food security. Landsat has long been a foundational piece of the “Space for Ag” initiative.