Skip to comments.Landsat 5 Sets Guinness World Record for Longest Operating Earth Observation Satellite
Posted on 02/12/2013 9:54:05 AM PST by null and void
This image shows the Columbia Glacier in Alaska, one of many vanishing around the world. Glacier retreat is one of the most direct and understandable effects of climate change. Courtesy of NASA/USGS
Landsat 5 successfully set the new Guinness World Records title for 'Longest-operating Earth observation satellite as stated in an e-mail from Guinness World Records sent to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. Outliving its three-year design life, Landsat 5 delivered high-quality, global data of Earth's land surface for 28 years and 10 months.
NASA launched Landsat 5 from Vandenberg Air Force base in Lompoc, CA. on March 1, 1984. Landsat 5 was designed and built at the same time as Landsat 4 and carried the same two instruments: the Multispectral Scanner System (MSS) and the Thematic Mapper (TM).
Managed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as part of the Landsat Program, it completed over 150,000 orbits and sent back more than 2.5 million images of Earths surface. On December 21, 2012 the USGS announced Landsat 5 would be decommissioned in the coming months after the failure of a redundant gyroscope. The satellite carries three gyroscopes for attitude control and needs two to maintain control.
"This is the end of an era for a remarkable satellite, and the fact that it
flew for almost three decades is a testament to the NASA engineers who launched it and the USGS team who kept it flying well beyond its expected lifetime," said Anne Castle, Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science in a press release.
Originally designed to be retrievable by the space shuttle, Landsat 5 was equipped with extra fuel. That extra fuel kept the satellite operating for much longer than anticipated after the space shuttle retrieval plan was thrown out.
Space is a harsh environment, and Landsat 5 faced more than 20 technical issues throughout its lifetime, as parts gave in to wear and age. Landsat 5's USGS Flight Operations team found engineering and operational fixes to work around the problems, which included losing batteries, star trackers and on-board data recording capability.
"The efforts of the Landsat team were heroic. Landsat 5 could not have lasted so long without the dedication and devotion of the USGS flight operations team that overcame a number of difficult technical challenges over the last 12 years," said Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist.
Not only did they keep the satellite going, said Irons, but in doing so, "Landsat 5 saved the Landsat program. This satellite's longevity preserved the Landsat program through the loss of Landsat 6 in 1993, preventing the specter of a data gap before the launch of Landsat 7 in 1999."
Today, the Landsat program continues to provide data used across the United States and the world for agricultural and forest monitoring and water resource management, among many other environmental applications.
NASA launched its next successor to the still operational Landsat 7 satellite, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) on February 11, 2013. LDCM carries two new instruments, the Operational Land Imager and the Thermal Infrared Sensor, which will collect data that are compatible with data from Landsat 5 and 7, and improve upon it with advanced instrument designs that are more sensitive to changes to the land surface, said Irons.
LDCM will continue the Landsat program's 40-year data record of monitoring Earth from space. Once the LDCM satellite is extensively tested and certified for its mission, it will be renamed Landsat 8 and be operated by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Too bad they’re using it to promote globull warming alarmism.
Nice try. Landsat is a superb example of engineering prowess.
Glow-bull “warming” is a super example of journalism idiocy.
Made back when “made in the USA” = quality.
Not the fault of Landsat.
When it was built the big climate concern was that we were on the cusp of the next ice age.
Yep. The valves dad built had metal-to-metal seals with helium leak rates below detection limits.
Since the bird is still working and hasn’t bled all of its attitude control fuel into the hard vacuum of space they apparently still do.
So... does this satellite gets creamed on Friday? Just curious... Can NASA determine which satellites are at the greatest risk on Friday?
NASA can, NASA has, NASA knows.
Probably none of the geosynchronous satellites are at risk from Friday’s asteroid pass. Chances are slim that the declination of the asteroid is precisely 0 degrees. And even if the asteroid crosses the equator at precisely the orbital path of the satellites even if the satellites were spaced only ten miles apart there’s plenty of space between them.
That and I’ve heard (don’t know where, sorry) that this one is in a polar orbit around the Sun.
I’m amazed the electronics stayed alive that long in low earth orbit.
Kudos to your Dad.
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