[Satellite TODAY 02-20-12] The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
has suspended Landsat 5 Earth-imaging operations for an additional 90 days while its Flight Operations Team (FOT) continues to investigate other options for imaging, USGS announced Feb. 17.
The Landsat program is a series of Earth observing satellite missions jointly managed by the USGS and NASA. Landsat 5 operations were stopped in November when an electronic component vital to transmission of the satellite’s Thematic Mapper data began showing signs of imminent failure. Following an unsuccessful attempt to recover the backup electronic component, the USGS FOT said it would explore potential changes to operational procedures for the primary component.
“The challenge of attempting to recover operations of malfunctioning, three-decade-old components in an unmanned satellite orbiting more than 400 miles above Earth is daunting to say the least,” USGS Director Marcia McNutt said in a statement. “Regardless of whether any additional data is collected, Landsat 5 has already exceeded all expectations for longevity.”
McNutt added that the USGS is researching the prospect of recovering the secondary Multispectral Scanner imaging instrument on Landsat 5. Landsat 8, which the USGS hopes will revive its capability, is scheduled for launch in January 2013.