Landsat Program's Landsat Mission 5 in Jeopardy
The Landsat Program's venerated, 27-year-old Landsat 5 satellite is nearing its demise.
According to the website of the U.S. Geological Survey, the USGS has stopped collecting images from the Landsat 5 satellite, launched in 1984, due to what it calls “a rapidly degrading electronic component.”
Originally designed to last only three years, the Landsat 5 was very near collapse in 2001, when the USGS assumed operation and resuscitated the satellite after the repeated malfunctioning of several key subsystems. The degrading electronic system, however, admits of no repair.
“This anticipated decline of Landsat 5 provides confirmation of the importance of the timely launch of the next Landsat mission and the need for an operational and reliable National Land Imaging System,” stated Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior. “The USGS is committed to maintaining the unique long term imaging database that the Landsat program provides.”
According to the USGS, engineers have noted over the course of the last several months fluctuating performances by the satellite's electronic amplifier, a device essential to the transmission of land-surface images from Landsat 5 to receiving stations in the United States and throughout the world. In the last 10 days, its decline has been precipitous, the image downloading processor having mostly ceased functioning.