Landsat Satellite Imagery

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450 terrabytes of Landsat imagery from the European Space Agency’s archives has been opened up to the public for free.  The agency’s archives covers 30 years of Landsat data.  Data that can be requested for free from ESA’s archives includes:

  • Archived Landsat-4 Thematic Mapper (TM) data in December 1982
  • Archived Landsat-5 TM data from April 1984 to today (including regular new acquisitions according to the predefined Landsat acquisition plan)
  • Landsat-7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM) data from July 1999 to December 2003
  • Pre-defined and limited collection of Thematic Mapper (TM) archived data acquired by Landsat-5 satellite over Europe from July 1984 to March 1999

Requests for data can be made via the Earth Observation Principal Investigator Portal.  Once a user has been approved and processed, retrieval in done online.  The USGS also makes Landsat data freely available through its Global Visualization Viewer.

 

 This animation compares two images of southern Spain’s Almería province, both captured by Landsat satellites in 1984 and 2011. The white area, known as the ‘Mar de plastico’ (sea of plastic), is covered with greenhouses. Tens of thousands of immigrants flock to the region in search of economic opportunities.   Credits: USGS/ESA.

This animation compares two images of southern Spain’s Almería province, both captured by Landsat satellites in 1984 and 2011. The white area, known as the ‘Mar de plastico’ (sea of plastic), is covered with greenhouses. Tens of thousands of immigrants flock to the region in search of economic opportunities. Credits: USGS/ESA.

The Landsat program was launched forty years ago in 1972 with the Launch of Landsat-1.  Currently Landsat-5 and Landsat-7 are still in orbit. The USGS recently stopped acquiring images from Landsat-5 due to electronic component failure.  Landsat-5 was launched in 1984 as a three year mission but had been producing imagery for over 27 years.  Over 5 million images have been downlinked since the satellite went operational.  While the USGS (which assumed control of the aging satellite in 2001) has restored the satellite after several instances of key subsystems malfunctions, the agency has stated that there is an “increasing likelihood that the Landsat 5 mission is nearing its end.”


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Landsat-7 continues to produce imagery; the satellite was launched in 1999 with a 5-year design life and the USGS has noted that it has an “instrument anomaly which reduces the amount of data collected per image.”  Landsat-8 is scheduled for launch in January of 2013.

This image of Rotterdam and the surrounding Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta was captured by Landsat-5 in 2006. ESA has recently opened over 25 years of Landsat data to users, free of charge.   Credits: USGS/ESA.

This image of Rotterdam and the surrounding Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta was captured by Landsat-5 in 2006. ESA has recently opened over 25 years of Landsat data to users, free of charge. Credits: USGS/ESA.

Related Resources

On 11 October 1985, Landsat-5 captured this image while over ESA’s ESRIN centre for Earth observation in Italy (south-east of Rome). ESA has been acquiring Landsat data at its European stations since the 1970s. Landsat was the backbone of Earth observation in the early years of ESRIN.   Credits: USGS/ESA.

On 11 October 1985, Landsat-5 captured this image while over ESA’s ESRIN centre for Earth observation in Italy (south-east of Rome). ESA has been acquiring Landsat data at its European stations since the 1970s. Landsat was the backbone of Earth observation in the early years of ESRIN. Credits: USGS/ESA.


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