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Landsat Missions

Landsat Satellite Missions

In a September 21, 1966 press release, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall announced that the DOI was launching "Project EROS (Earth Resources Observation Satellites)". Udall's vision was to observe the Earth for the benefit of all. He stated that "the program will provide us with the an opportunity to collect valuable resource data and use it to improve the quality of our environment." 

The Department of the Interior, NASA, and the Department of Agriculture then embarked on an ambitious effort to develop and launch the first civilian Earth observation satellite. Their goal was achieved on July 23, 1972, with the launch of the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS-1), which was later renamed Landsat 1. The launches of Landsat 2Landsat 3, and Landsat 4 followed in 1975, 1978, and 1982, respectively. 

When Landsat 5 launched in 1984, no one could have predicted that the satellite would continue to deliver high quality, global data of Earth’s land surfaces for 28 years and 10 months, officially setting a new Guinness World Record for "longest-operating Earth observation satellite." Landsat 6 failed to achieve orbit in 1993.

Landsat 7 successfully launched in 1999, Landsat 8 in 2013, and both satellites continue to acquire data. 

The Landsat 9 satellite is being developed toward a launch readiness date of December 2020. 

Landsat Missions Timeline

Since 1972, Landsat satellites have continuously acquired space-based images of the Earth’s land surface, providing data that serve as valuable resources for land use/land change research.