August 26, 2009

Landsat 5 stabilized, but power is low

The U.S. Geological Survey says it has stabilized its Landsat 5 satellite that tumbled out of control Aug. 13, but imaging operations have been suspended.

The USGS Landsat Flight Operations Team said the cause of the incident was still undetermined, the satellite's power remains at a critically low level and the extent of damage had not yet been identified.

Landsat 5 has proven to be a remarkable success and has given the science community important information on land features of the planet, said USGS Landsat Program manager Kristi Kline. It was launched in 1984 and designed to last three years with a possible extension to five years. Incredibly it is still a valuable resource and by early 2009, it had completed over 129,000 orbits and acquired over 700,000 individual scenes.

The USGS said Landsat 5 has provided data that, among many other things, demonstrated the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the extent of damage and alterations caused by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant mishap, deforestation of tropical rain forests and the extent of numerous forest and wildfire outbreaks.