Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Landsat sensor performance: history and current status

December 1, 2004

The current Thematic Mapper (TM) class of Landsat sensors began with Landsat-4, which was launched in 1982. This series continued with the nearly identical sensor on Landsat-5, launched in 1984. The final sensor in the series was the Landsat-7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+), which was carried into orbit in 1999. Varying degrees of effort have been devoted to the characterization of these instruments and data over the past 22 years. Extensive short-lived efforts early in the history, very limited efforts in the middle years, and now a systematic program for continuing characterization of all three systems are apparent. Currently, both the Landsat-5 TM and the Landsat-7 ETM+ are operational and providing data. Despite 20+ years of operation, the TM on Landsat-5 is fully functional, although downlinks for the data are limited. Landsat-7 ETM+ experienced a failure of its Scan Line Corrector mechanism in May 2003. Although there are gaps in the data coverage, the data remain of equivalent quality to prefailure data. Data products have been developed to fill these gaps using other ETM+ scenes.

Related Content