Landsat 5, an important but aging satellite that had been scheduled for decommissioning on June 30, 2001, will continue collecting earth science information, for at least several more months.
Landsat 5, launched in 1984, and Landsat 7, launched in 1999, cover the entire earth’s surface in alternating cycles every eight days. Users of USGS earth satellite images were concerned over the loss of that once-every-eight days cycle and the end of Landsat 5 as a backup for the technologically advanced Landsat 7.
"Users like the eight-day cycle from two satellites because it gives them greater opportunities to obtain critical, cloud-free images of forest clear-cutting, forest and wildland fires, agricultural crops, floods, tornado damage swaths, urban change, coastal erosion and a host of other landscape changes," said USGS Landsat program manager, R. J. Thompson.
Several large orders for Landsat 5 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NASA, other federal agencies, universities and private users were sufficient to enable the satellite to continue collecting images for several more months.
Because commercial marketing rights to current and historical Landsat data expired July 1, 2001, Landsat 5 data users will no longer have restrictions on the use or redistribution of Landsat 5 products.
Landsat 5 has performed far beyond its two-year design lifetime, sending hundreds of thousands of 100-mile by 100-mile land-surface images to U.S. and international ground receiving stations. Landsat 5, using its several back-up subsystems, still provides high-quality image data to ground antennas.