Landsat Missions

Landsat 3

Landsat 3 (orginally named Landsat C) was launched into space onboard a Delta 2910 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on March 5, 1978. The objective of Landsat 3 was to extend the period of space-acquired Earth imagery, started by Landsat 1 and Landsat 2.The satellite was placed in standy mode on March 31, 1983 and decommissioned on September 7, 1983. 

Sketch of the Landsat 1-3 satellite.

Sketch of the Landsat 1-3 satellites. 

Landsat 3, like Landsat 1 and Landsat 2, orbited the the Earth in a sun-synchronous, near-polar orbit (99.2 degrees inclination) at a nominal altitude of 917 km (570 miles), circling the Earth every 103.34 minutes, completing 14 orbits per day. The satellite had a repeat cycle of 18 days and had an equatorial crossing time of 9:30 a.m. mean local time (+/- 15 minutes). 

Landsat 3 data were acquired on the Worldwide Reference System-1 (WRS-1) path/row system, with swath overlap (or sidelap) varying from 14 percent at the Equator to a maximum of approximately 85 percent at 81 degrees north or south latitude. 

Data products created from over 140,000 Landsat 3 MSS scenes are available to download from EarthExplorerGloVis, and the LandsatLook Viewer

 

 

 

 

Landsat 3 Instruments

Landsat 3 carried the modificed versions of the sensors placed on Landsat 1 and Landsat 2: the Return Beam Vidicon (RBV) and the Multispectral Scanner System (MSS).

Return Beam Vidicon (RBV)

The RBV sensor utilized vidicon tube instruments containing an electron gun that read images from a photoconductive faceplate similar to television cameras. The data stream received from the satellite was analog-to-digital preprocessed to correct for radiometric and geometric errors. 

The RBV system was redesigned for Landsat 3 to use two cameras, mounted side-by-side, with panchromatic spectral response and higher spatial resolution than on Landsat 1 and Landsat 2, to complement the multispectral coverage provided by the MSS. Each of the cameras produced a swath of about 90 km (for a total swath of 180 km).

  • 40-meter-ground resolution
  • Two cameras operating in one broad spectral band (green to near-infrared; 0.505–0.750 µm) 
  • Data recorded to 70 millimeter (mm) black and white film rolls
  • Data: 3.5 MHz FM video

RBV data was rarely used and considered useful for engineering evaluation purposes rather than science analysis. More details about RBV data can be found on https://lta.cr.usgs.gov/rbv.html

Multispectral Scanner (MSS)

The MSS sensor was a line-scanning device observing the Earth perpendicular to the orbital track. The cross-track scanning was accomplished by an oscillating mirror; six lines were scanned simultaneously in each of the four spectral bands for each mirror sweep. The forward motion of the satellite provided the along-track scan line progression. The MSS sensor on Landsat 3 originally had five spectral bands, but one failed shortly after launch. 

  • 80-meter ground resolution in four spectral bands:
    • Band 4 Visible green (0.5 to 0.6 µm)
    • Band 5 Visible red (0.6 to 0.7 µm)
    • Band 6 Near-Infrared (0.7 to 0.8 µm)
    • Band 7 Near-Infrared (0.8 to 1.1 µm)
  • Six detectors for each spectral band provided six scan lines on each active scan
  • Ground Sampling Interval (pixel size): 57 x 79 m
  • Scene size: 170 km x 185 km (106 mi x 115 mi)

More information about MSS data can be found on https://lta.cr.usgs.gov/MSS

Landsat 3 Spacecraft Facts

  • Manufactured by General Electric (GE) Astrospace
  • Weight: approximately 953 kg (2,100 lbs)
  • Overall height: 3 m (10 ft)
  • Diameter: 1.5 m (5 ft)
  • Solar array paddles extend out to a total of 4 m (13 ft)
  • 3-axis stabilized using 4 wheels to +/-0.7° attitude control
  • Twin solar array paddles (single-axis articulation)
  • S-Band and Very High Frequency (VHF) communications
  • Hydrazine propulsion system with 3 thrusters

 

Landsat 3 History (NASA Landsat Science)

The Multispectral Scanner (NASA Landsat Science)

Landsat Adds to World Memory - October 2011 (USGS)