- On this day in 1984, Landsat 5 was launched into orbit. Today, after 24 years of service, Landsat 5 is still operational. The original design life of Landsat 5 was just three years, but it has become the longest continuously operating Earth observation system in the U.S. civilian satellite fleet. Landsat 5’s tremendous life span is a tribute to the prodigious engineering behind the satellite.
Safeguarding freshwater resources is crucial, and while scientists use a variety of ground-based techniques to gauge water quality, the Landsat program has provided water quality data from orbit for decades.