A long string of Earth-observing orbiters began with NASA's Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS). Launched in July 1972, it was the first satellite explicitly designed to study our planet. Three years later, the satellite was renamed Landsat 1. Outlasting its one-year design, Landsat 1 retired in January 1978.
Landsat 1 views Alaska Fire
Within days of the launch, Landsat 1 acquired an image of an astounding 81,000-acre (327.8 square kilometers) fire burning in isolated, central Alaska. For the first time ever, scientists and resource management officials were able to see the full extent of damage from a fire in a single image while it was still burning.
This false color image was acquired on July 27, 1972 from Path 83 Row 13 and is shown using the near infrared, red, and green bands (Bands 7,5,4).
Learn more on the Landsat 1 mission web page