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Landsat Missions

Landsat and LDCM Headlines 2012

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triangle down  December 21, 2012 – The End of an Era

Today the U.S. Geological Survey announced that Landsat 5 will be decommissioned over the coming months, bringing to a close the longest-operating Earth observing satellite mission in history.

Share your thoughts on L5's amazing service and legacy!

triangle down  December 14, 2012 – Witness a bit of history!

NASA is hosting a social media event at the launch of Landsat 8 in Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in early February. We would like as many Landsat users to attend as possible. Registration is open from December 20, 2012 through January 7, 2013. Please see the NASA webpage for details and restrictions. Hope to see you there!

triangle down  November 27, 2012 – Sabers talks about Landsat 8

Jenn Sabers, Remote Sensing Branch Chief at the USGS EROS Center, answers questions about Landsat science, the Landsat legacy, and the future of the mission in the online magazine Sensors & Systems.

triangle down  November 7, 2012 – Members of the Landsat Science Team Interviewed on SDPB

Drs. Dennis Helder and David Roy were interviewed on South Dakota Public Broadcasting's Dakota Midday about Landsat 8 and their roles in the Landsat Science Team. Listen to the interview on SDPB's website.

triangle down  October 30, 2012 – Landsat TM data removed from downloadable state

All Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) scenes were removed from downloadable state on October 29, 2012, to resolve issues with thermal band 6 processing. Any previously placed requests for TM data will need to be resubmitted for processing. We apologize for this inconvenience. Please direct any questions or concerns about this to

triangle down  October 26, 2012 – Landsat 5 Thermal band 6 issues

Issues have been identified with thermal band 6 of Landsat Thematic Mapper processed data, due to the Calibration Parameter File (CPF) updates implemented on October 1, 2012. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. Please direct any questions or concerns about this to

triangle down  October 22, 2012 – LTWG#21 Meets in Sioux Falls, SD

Landsat Technical Working Group #21 (LTWG#21) held

The Landsat Technical Working Group #21 (LTWG#21) meeting was held in Sioux Falls, SD, USA, on September 24 through September 28, 2012.

Participants from 19 countries, including members of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Landsat and Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) Projects, represented 29 U.S. and international ground stations and discussed a wide range of technical topics.

Special guest Dr. Frank Kelly, USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center Director and Space Policy Advisor, welcomed the attendees. He also provided an overview of the EROS Center over the last 40 years, and shared the Center's course for the next 40 years.

The USGS presented material on the Land Satellites Data System (LSDS) and related future plans. Landsat Project presentations included the latest Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 mission statuses, Multi-Spectral Scanner (MSS) processing capability progress, the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation (LGAC) initiative, Landsat mission planning, Landsat product evolution, operational Data Validation & Exchange (DV&E) status, Calibration/Validation, and LandsatLook.

NASA, USGS, and LDCM observatory contractor presentations included Project and Ground System status including plans and timelines for LDCM Ground System processing software availability, the LDCM Ground System-to-International Cooperator interface testing, DV&E, and Ground Station certification. The USGS also prepared in-depth LDCM Ground System technical presentations including follow-up Question & Answer (Q&A) splinter sessions for its International Cooperator attendees. The technical sessions covered LDCM Ground System content such as requirements, interfaces, design, implementation, and current testing results and performance.

Each International Cooperator briefed the attendees on the status of their stations including LDCM Ground System readiness, future satellite missions, and current status of their LGAC activities.

International Cooperators and U.S. attendees included representatives from the following countries and organizations:


triangle down  October 19, 2012 – New Landsat Science Team Announced

The USGS, in cooperation with NASA, has selected an expert team of scientists and engineers to provide technical and scientific input to USGS and NASA on issues critical to the success of the Landsat program. The team members and their areas of expertise are listed on the Landsat website or in the USGS announcement.

triangle down  October 19, 2012 – New Earthshots Website

The USGS EROS Center recently released a revised and updated Earthshots. Explore the site's new images and updated content to see how satellite images are used to track change over time. See more.

triangle down  October 15, 2012 – New GLS Visualization Interface Available

The USGS EROS Science Processing Architecture (ESPA) GLS Visualization Interface ( was released today. The new interface allows users to immediately download Global Land Survey (GLS) 2010 and GLS 2005 Surface Reflectance Products. GLS 2000 surface reflectance products will be available soon as well.

In addition, Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) scenes from 1984 to April 14, 2012 can also be processed to surface reflectance for scientific evaluation through the ESPA Ordering Interface ( A username and password is required; to receive the login details, please complete the Contact Us Form, selecting the topic Surface Reflectance Data Request.

Landsat Provisional Surface Reflectance Products (LPSRP) are created using the Landsat Ecosystem Disturbance Adaptive Processing System (LEDAPS) software developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Version: November 24, 2011). Additional details about LPSRP and LEDAPS software can be found at

triangle down  October 1, 2012 – Remote Sensing of Environment Landsat Legacy Special Issue

The July 2012 edition of Remote Sensing of Environment is a special Landsat Legacy issue. As the corporate sponsor of the issue, the USGS invites you to free access to the issue for a year from publication. 202 pages of everything Landsat from the mission's science, to its future, to its legacy. The full issue can be found here.

triangle down  September 28, 2012 – Landsat releases quarterly Calibration Parameter File

Once a quarter, the radiometry experts on the Landsat team craft a new Calibration Parameter File (CPF), which is then incorporated into processing new and archived data. For Landsat 5 TM products created on or after 1 October, the update will improve radiometric accuracy and will significantly reduce or eliminate residual banding and striping. Read More

triangle down  September 27, 2012 – LandsatLook Viewer

The LandsatLook Viewer will not be available from Friday, September 28th through October 1st. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

triangle down  September 4, 2012 – 9 million Landsat downloads...and counting

The use of Landsat data has exploded since the USGS began distributing the data at no cost via the internet. In the best sales year, around 25,000 images were sold. The Landsat project has now exceeded that number in a single day.

In fact, the 9 millionth image was distributed on September 1, 2012. It has taken less than 4 years to reach this mark, which demonstrates both the temporal and geographic expansion of Landsat-based research, as well as exposure to new communities that are exploring the 40 years of global Landsat data for the first time.

triangle down  August 24, 2012 – Landsat metadata release moves forward

A large metadata and file name update will be released on August 29, 2012. All access to Landsat data will be down for the day, with a return on August 30th. Details about the changes to metadata and file names can be found at

triangle down  August 20, 2012 – Delayed Release of Metadata Changes

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the release that will align the L1 thru L8 metadata has been delayed. We will make further announcements as more details develop.

triangle down  July 23, 2012 – USGS Rolls Out New LandsatLook Viewer

In honor of this, the 40th Anniversary of the Landsat 1 launch, and in preparation for Landsat 8 in February 2013, the USGS has rolled out a prototype viewer that allows easy access to the over 3 million scenes in the Landsat archive. Find out more about the LandsatLook Viewer. Go to the LandsatLook Viewer.

triangle down  July 23, 2012 – Landsat celebrates 40th anniversary

In celebration of our 40th Anniversary, our community helped select ten interesting places to study land change. Our global community also helped us pick the top five most beautiful Landsat images. Information on these and other 40th activities can be found in the USGS newsroom.

triangle down  June 11, 2012 – Vote for Your Favorite Landsat Image!

In celebration of Landsat's 40th anniversary, we invite you to vote on some of the prettiest Landsat scenes in our archive. The Earth as Art collection has more than 120 images that were hand selected for their beauty or uniqueness. The poll closed on July 6, 2012, and the winners were announced as part of the anniversary celebration on July 23.

triangle down  June 6, 2012 – Landsat 7 Back on Track

In late April, Landsat 7 had to move away from a piece of oncoming space debris. This sent Landsat 7 westward out of its nominal reference orbit. In May, the Flight Operations Team conducted a maneuver to push the spacecraft back east. As of Tuesday, June 5, Landsat 7 was back in its correct orbit.

triangle down  May 14, 2012 – Landsat 7 Maneuver to Return to WRS

Landsat 7 maneuvered away from a piece of space debris in mid-April, which meant that some data are outside of the Worldwide Reference System. On Tuesday, May 15, the USGS Flight Operations Team will execute a maneuver that over several weeks will gradually bring Landsat 7 back into the correct orbit. There will be no new acquisitions from Tuesday May 15, through mid-day Wednesday May 16, 2012.

triangle down  May 8, 2012 – Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper Ceases Routine Acquisitions - Update

After a silent winter, the USGS turned on the Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) in late April to determine the state of the electronics problem that suspended operations in November, 2011. Unfortunately, several alternate methods of acquisitions did not alleviate the problem, which severely limits any further acquisitions with the TM. Currently, the USGS plans to acquire only a handful of images over the next few weeks as we examine our options. Landsat 5 has a long and storied career, and the data collected are invaluable to the study of our Earth.

The Multi-Spectral Scanner (MSS) instrument on Landsat 5 has been reactivated and MSS data are being collected over the United States. The MSS data are being archived but processing and distribution of the data will not be possible until the USGS develops the necessary product generation capabilities.

triangle down  April 25, 2012 – Testing the Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper

Plans to test the Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper downlink begin today, April 25, 2012. Data may be visible on the EarthNow! ( during testing. However, the data will not be available for download by users until completion of analysis and calibration.

triangle down  April 18, 2012 – Landsat 7 Maneuvers to Avoid Space Debris

More than half a million pieces of space junk are in orbit floating in and around operational missions. In coordination with NASA, the USGS keeps constant vigil to avoid space debris that might collide with the Landsat 5 and 7 satellites.

On April 17, 2012, Landsat 7 maneuvered out of the path of a piece of debris that was on a collision course with the spacecraft. This move will affect the location of the data imaged. As a result, the geographic coverage of collected imagery will drift to the west until the easternmost portion of the scene will be missing as compared to previous acquisitions. The most affected region will be the Tropics, which will begin seeing a small offset on or around April 25.

The westward movement will continue until the USGS Flight Operations Team can maneuver and reposition the satellite to its proper orbit. This process is expected to take approximately 2 months, and the USGS will continue to acquire data during this time. Details about returning to nominal orbit will be announced when they become available.

triangle down  April 12, 2012 – Landsat 5 Captures MSS Data

Landsat 5 recently captured and downlinked Multispectral Scanner (MSS) images for the first time in over a decade. An MSS sensor first flew on Landsat 1 in 1972 and was aboard each of the Landsats 1-5. The MSS was powered down on Landsat 5 in the late 1990's, but the USGS recently turned on the MSS to determine the current state of the sensor. The USGS successfully downlinked raw data from the MSS for several successful passes in the past two weeks. Due to the length of its inactivity, much analysis and testing still lie ahead to determine the quality of the data, and the ability of the USGS to collect, process, and distribute the data. Therefore, MSS data distribution is by no means a certainty.
Landsat MSS data acquired April 2012
Landsat MSS data acquired April 2012

triangle down  April 10, 2012 – USGS Seeks Landsat Science Team Proposals

The U.S. Geological Survey, Center for EROS, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is seeking proposals from scientists and engineers interested in serving on the Landsat Science Team. The Landsat Science Team will conduct research on issues critical to the effective utilization of Landsat data. Proposals are sought that address data acquisition, data calibration, sensor performance, product access and format, user applications, and science opportunities for new- and past-generation Landsat data. The Team plays a critical role in reducing mission risks and ensuring that critical design and functionality issues are addressed. The government anticipates multiple awards from this solicitation.

There are two parallel opportunities for candidates interested in serving on the Landsat Science Team. Academic, industry, and non-governmental scientists and engineers can compete for funded research and development contracts. Interested parties may obtain a copy of the RFP electronically at All interested offerors responding to this Request for Proposals should download the solicitation from the website given and provide a written response by the due date indicated on the solicitation.

Details on Landsat Science Team opportunities for Federal and international scientists and engineers, as well as proposal instructions can be found here.

triangle down March 5, 2012 – Anne Castle, DOI Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, recently discussed Landsat's 40 years.

At the Association for American Geographer's Annual Meeting, Anne Castle spoke to Landsat's long legacy, its benefit to humanity, and the future of the mission. In her presentation, you can find striking images of our planet, graphics on how Landsat is for research and operational analysis, statistics on the importance of free data, and the promise of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM).

triangle down March 2, 2012 – LDCM Observatory

LDCM Observatory with both instruments onboard, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS). LDCM is due to launch in January 2013.

triangle down March 1, 2012 – Happy 28th Birthday Landsat 5!

March 1, 2012: Happy 28th Birthday Landsat 5!

triangle down February 29, 2012 – Landsat Ground Station Operators Working Group (LGSOWG#40)

The 40th Landsat Ground Station Operators Working Group Meeting was held January 30 through February 3, 2012, in Bali, Indonesia. LGSOWG#40 was hosted by the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN).

Many ground station management topics were discussed among the participants from 17 countries, including members of the USGS Landsat and Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) Projects. Together, the group represented 23 U.S. and international ground stations.

The USGS presented material on the Land Satellites Data System (LSDS) and future missions, including LDCM and Landsat 9. LDCM presentations included project and ground system development status, including plans and timelines for ground system processing software availability and upcoming International Cooperator ground system interface testing. A Landsat Science Team update was also presented.

Landsat Operations presentations included status reports on the Landsat 5 and 7 missions, the Global Land Survey activity, and the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation initiative. A detailed status on recovery of the Landsat 5 mission was also provided.

Attendees also participated in the following special science collaboration topics:

Each International Cooperator briefed the group on the status of their current ground systems (including electronic data delivery capabilities and challenges), presented their future satellite mission(s), and discussed the current status of Landsat Global Archive Consolidation activities.

International Cooperators and U.S. attendees included representatives from the following countries and organizations:

group photo

triangle down February 16, 2012 – USGS extends suspension of operations for Landsat 5

Landsat 5 imaging was suspended in November 2011 when a vital transmission component showed signs of imminent failure. The Flight Operations Team continues to explore options, which include alternate operating procedures for the Thematic Mapper and evaluation of the other sensor onboard, the Multispectral Scanner. For details see the USGS Newsroom.

triangle down February 10, 2012 – The Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) instrument

The Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) instrument was shipped from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) in Gilbert, Arizona, where it will be integrated with the LDCM satellite bus built by OSC. The Operational Land Imager (OLI) instrument, built by Ball Aerospace Technology Corporation (BATC) in Boulder, Colorado, is currently in the process of being integrated with the spacecraft. The delivery of TIRS achieves a major milestone towards completing assembling the LDCM observatory.

triangle down February 8, 2012 – Dr. Alan Belward discusses the value of Landsat.

Alan Belward, head of the Land Resource Management Unit with the Institute for Environment and Sustainability at the European Commission's Joint Research Center, talks about why Landsat is important to global forest mapping. Dr. Belward states that Landsat is a unique tool because of its 40-year time span, its archive of global images, and its free and open access. To hear the complete interview, visit EarthSky.

triangle down February 7, 2012 – The NASA TIRS instrument

The NASA TIRS instrument development team successfully completed the Pre-Ship Review (PSR), capping a major milestone for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission. TIRS development was completed in 43 months on an aggressive schedule to meet a January, 2013 launch readiness date.

triangle down January 19, 2012 – The TIRS instrument

The TIRS instrument completed the last of its functional testing at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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