Mirror set-up
Sep 4, 2014A Big Eye in the Mojave Desert

In 1980, artist Tom Van Sant created the world’s largest manmade image with the help of Landsat 3.

MSS image of Half Dome, May 1972
May 1, 20141972 MSS Image of Half Dome

In May of 1972, two months before the launch of Landsat 1, engineers from Hughes Aircraft Company took their engineering model of the Multispectal Scanning System (MSS) out to Yosemite National Park, set it up on Glacier Point, and took this test image of Half Dome from a 2.5 miles away. The image composite shown above uses the MSS bands 3, 2, and 1.

L5 from L8, band 8
Feb 14, 2014Landsat 8 Spots an Old Friend

Eight months ago, on June 5, 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey decommissioned the venerable Landsat 5 satellite. That day, the USGS Landsat Flight Operations Team transmitted the last command to Landsat 5, effectively terminating the mission and leaving it in a disposal orbit.

The LDCM thermal instrument engineering team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Apr 27, 2012Engineering the Future By Building on the Landsat Legacy

Apr 27, 2012 • Building a satellite is a major collaboration and involves the hard work of many different types of engineers. The engineering process for Landsat involves defining the satellite requirements, testing the design, building the instruments and satellite, then testing the instruments and satellite, integrating the satellite and instruments together, launching the satellite, […]

Left: a report page from the first flight across the South Atlantic Ocean in 1922, accepted into the Memory of the World Register in 2011. Right: a page of the Gutenberg Bible, accepted into the register in 2001.
Oct 13, 2011Landsat MSS Data Now Part of the Memory of the World Register

Oct 13, 2011 • What do the Landsat MSS data archive, the Gutenberg Bible, Tolstoy’s personal library, and the Book of Kells—an eighth century illuminated manuscript created by Celtic monks—have in common? They are all among the 245 international documentary collections that make up the Memory of the World Register. The register is an UNESCO […]

Tehran, Iran
Nov 18, 2009NASA’s Newest Map of the World

Nov 18, 2009 • In June 2009, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey put the finishing touches on a new collection of mapped images covering the entire land surface of the Earth and made them available to anyone, anywhere in the world, absolutely free. The result of a collaboration between NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, […]

Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica
Sep 2, 2009NASA’s Tour of the Cryosphere Incorporates Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica (LIMA)

Sep 2, 2009 • Back in 2002, NASA created a film using satellite data that took viewers on a tour of Earth’s frozen regions. This year, NASA visualizers are taking viewers on a return trip to see how things have changed over the years. “The Tour of the Cryosphere 2009” combines satellite imagery and state-of-the-art […]

Landsat 5 launching on March 1, 1984 from Vandenberg AFB
Mar 1, 2009Earth Observing Landsat 5 Turns 25

Mar 1, 2009 • 132,969 … 132,970 … 132,971. Like a trusty watch counting up the minutes, the Landsat 5 satellite keeps on ticking, orbit after orbit around the Earth. Well beyond its design lifetime of 15,000 orbits, the satellite’s trajectory could go askew or its instruments could malfunction at any moment. But not today. […]

Landsat 7 image of Parachinar
Feb 27, 2009UCLA Geographers Use Landsat to Track Bin Laden

Feb 27, 2009 • UCLA geographers say they have a good idea of where Osama Bin Laden was at the end of 2001 — and perhaps where he has been in the years since. In a new study published online today by the MIT International Review, the geographers report that simple facts, publicly available satellite […]

Jonathan Timberlake
Nov 26, 2008Landsat Imagery Leads to Discovery of New Species

Nov 26, 2008 • In 2005, conservation scientist Dr. Julian Bayliss was looking at Landsat images of northern Mozambique with Google Earth. He was in search of regions close to Malawi’sMt. Mulanje that could form potential transfrontier conservation areas. Using the Landsat imagery, Bayliss made note of proximate mountainous green patches, knowing that greater rainfall levels at […]

Landsat image of Cape Disappointment
Nov 25, 2008You Can Retrace the Journey of Lewis and Clark with Landsat Imagery

Nov 25, 2008 • The U.S. Geological Survey has made it possible for you to retrace the historic journey of Lewis and Clark with a series of Landsat posters that feature significant stops and encampments along their route, from Wood River Camp to Cape Disappointment. From the USGS Website: To commemorate the 200th anniversary of […]

glacially formed depressions that hold dynamic wetlands
Sep 30, 2008Landsat, Potholes, and Climate Change

Contributor: Laura E.P. Rocchio Sep 30, 2008 • What could Landsat, potholes, and climate change have in common? Well—when you use the term “potholes” to refer to the glacially-formed wetland depressions of the Prairie Pothole Region of central North America—the answer is: a lot! The Prairie Pothole Region The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) contains millions […]

Green sea turtle.
Aug 31, 2008Landsat Important to Coastal Studies

Contributor: Laura E.P. Rocchio Aug 31, 2008 • When you think of Landsat, images of the Earth’s land surface rightly come to mind because that is the type of imagery that Landsat was designed to collect. However, also included in that land category are coastal waters. This month (August 2008), three published journal articles convey […]

Archeologist Bill Middleton
May 16, 2008Archaeologist Uses Landsat to Explore Ancient Mexico

May 16, 2008 • Satellite imagery obtained from NASA will help archeologist Bill Middleton peer into the ancient Mexican past. In a novel archeological application, multi- and hyperspectral data will help build the most accurate and most detailed landscape map that exists of the southern state of Oaxaca, where the Zapotec people formed the first […]

Creator Tom Hill with his Landsat 7 (left) and Landsat 5 (right) LEGO models.
Jun 28, 2007A LEGO Landsat

Jun 28, 2007 • Did you know LEGO sells model kits that enable you to build replicas of the Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 satellites? Well, thanks to Tom Hill of the Landsat project, they do. Serendipitously, after taking a position in Landsat flight operations last fall, Tom spent an evening playing LEGO with his […]

mudtrails from trawlers in the Gulf of Mexico
May 31, 2007Landsat Data Show Trawler “Mudtrails”

May 31, 2007 • Researchers from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and the University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Center are using high- and mid-resolution remote sensing data to better understand the global impact of the fishing industry’s trawling practices. The large plumes of sediment, or “mudtrails” produced by trawlers as they dredge the […]

Landsat 7 image of Madagascar
Feb 20, 2007Landsat Data Used in Chevron Discovery

Feb 20, 2007 • Recently a landform called a chevron was noted on a Landsat 7 image of Madagascar. These chevrons may have been formed by a mega-tsunami produced 4,800 years ago by a meteorite or comet impact with the Indian Ocean. Tsunami-generated chevrons rarely consist of a single feature but are nested like the […]

Microsoft's Virtual Earth - Baltimore, Maryland
Jan 9, 2007Landsat Data Part of MSN® Virtual Earth™

Jan 9, 2007 • MSN® Virtual Earth™ is a web map server that offers search and mapping capabilities. As described in a July 2005 Microsoft press release, “the service enables users to search, discover, explore, plan and share information and activities relevant to specific U.S. locations by combining aerial imagery, detailed maps and precise local […]

Landsat 7 image mosaics used in Google Earth™, top: NaturalVue™, bottom: TruEarth®.
Apr 26, 2006Landsat Data Base Map for Google Earth™

Apr 26, 2006 • Google™ once again wowed web users worldwide with its release of Google Earth™ (external link). This product allows users to have a bird’s-eye view of almost any place on the planet. Google Earth™ is a free desktop Geographic Information System (GIS) with satellite imagery covering all of Earth’s landmasses. The program seamlessly integrates map […]

Landsat Island
Apr 19, 2006Landsat Island

Apr 19, 2006 • Off the northeastern coast of Labrador, in the northern most reaches of the Newfoundland & Labrador province lies Landsat Island, an icy isle inhabited only by polar bears. How did such a place get named after a satellite? In 1976, Landsat data were used as part of a Canadian coastal survey. […]