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April 20, 2000 - Landsat 7 Marks One Year Anniversary

A year after its April 15, 1999 launch, Landsat 7 continues to serve a wide variety of "Earth customers" with its data. Since being declared operational last July, Landsat 7 has gathered more than 90,000 images, covering most of the Earth’s surface multiple times in stunning detail.

Landsat 7 has provided images of all major U.S. cities, as well as timely images of the recent devastating floods in Mozambique, the flood damage in North Carolina from Hurricane Floyd, and the drought conditions that plagued the eastern U.S. last summer. The imagery also has been used to monitor volcanic eruptions in Alaska, Mexico, Hawaii, Italy, and Central America, and to document change over time, such as receding glaciers in Alaska and the Alps, deforestation in the tropics, and recent and past wildfires in the outback of Australia and in remote areas of Siberia.

"Landsat 7 is already proving to be a major source for information about the land mass of the planet. Building on previous satellite data provides us a crucial long-term record of information about the Earth," said U.S. Geological Survey Landsat program manager, R. J. Thompson.

USGS scientists are using Landsat 7 to spot the amount and condition of dry biomass on the ground, a potential fuel sources for feeding wildfires that can threaten humans, animals and natural resources. In addition, USGS scientists have used Landsat 7 to provide a synoptic view of the landscape simultaneously with the outbreak of infectious diseases-most recently in the outbreak of the West Nile Virus, a mosquito borne disease that caused encephalitis in people in the New York City area last summer.

"The resolution and absolute calibration of the imagery collected by the Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus instrument are far better than what has been provided by previous Landsat sensors," said Dr. Darrel Williams, Landsat 7 Project Scientist, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "These enhancements permit users to more easily register the image data to maps, to resolve smaller features in the imagery and to more confidently compare current results with those derived from analyses of data acquired by earlier Landsat sensors." Landsat 7 is the latest in a continuous series of Earth observation satellites that began with Landsat 1 in 1972.

The USGS Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. processes, archives, and distributes all Landsat data held in its archives. Every 16 days, Landsat 7 flies over the same geographic area and is capable of documenting the ground cover conditions of the entire globe on a seasonal basis. Every day, Landsat 7 collects and downlinks 250 scenes of data to be archived at the EROS Data Center, and an additional 200 unique scenes are downlinked to nearly a dozen international ground-receiving stations located around the world.

Spacecraft operations are being performed daily at a Goddard mission operations center. NASA controllers will continue to operate the spacecraft until Oct. 1, 2000, when this function will be turned over to the U.S. Geological Survey. The Landsat Project Office, located at Goddard, managed the development, testing and launch of Landsat 7. Goddard also was responsible for developing the ground operations system, as well as the ground data handling and processing systems. Landsat 7 is part of a global research program known as NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise, a long-term program that is focused on studying changes in the Earth’s global environment.