This Week in Space: NASA Launches Landsat 1 on January 13, 1972
This week in 1972, NASA launched the Earth Resources Technology Satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It was later renamed Landsat 1.
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Containing a camera system built by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), Landsat 1 was comprised of two primary instruments: the Return Beam Vidicon (RBV) and the Multispectral Scanner (MSS). The RBV was supposed to be the prime instrument, but the MSS data was found to be superior.
Landsat 1 was the world’s first Earth-observing satellite launched to monitor the planets’ landmasses.
To analyze the data, NASA employed over 300 private research investigators.
Landsat 1 was a modified Nimbus meteorological satellite. Here are some additional facts:
- Weight: approximately 953 kg (2,100 lbs)
- Overall height: 3 m (10 ft)
- Diameter: 1.5 m (5 ft)
- Solar array paddles extend out to a total of 4 m (13 ft)
- 3-axis stabilized using 4 wheels to +/-0.7° attitude control
- Twin solar array paddles (single-axis articulation)
- S-Band and Very High Frequency (VHF) communications
- Hydrazine propulsion system with 3 thrusters
Landsat Program Continues to Supply Space Images
The Landsat program is still going strong. Landsat 8 launched in 2013 and is still returning images to scientists. Landsat 9 is scheduled to launch in 2020 or 2021.
Image courtesy of NASA, Landsat 1 and Landsat 8 comparison image