September 8, 2009

Landsat 5: Back in normal operation

The U.S. Geological Survey says its 25-year-old Landsat 5 satellite is back in service collecting data after beginning to tumble in space last month.

Engineers at the USGS Landsat Flight Operations Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., said the historically reliable Earth observation satellite began tumbling Aug. 13. Scientists immediately started processes to protect the satellite and to restore capability.

Landsat 5 continues to collect data, the USGS said in a statement. In fact, the one-millionth download of free Landsat data -- the counting started after a policy of free downloads began in October 2008 -- was a clear Landsat 5 image ... of the Grand Canyon in the southwestern U.S.

The survey said the cause of the anomaly is still being investigated.

The satellite was launched in 1984 and is now 22 years past its original 3-year mission.