USGS’ Aging Landsat 5 On the Brink of Overdue Retirement
[Satellite TODAY 11-21-11] The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Landsat 5 Earth observation satellite has stopped transmitting images due to a rapidly degrading electronic component, the agency confirmed Nov. 18.
The USGS took over operation of the 27-year-old satellite in 2001. The aging satellite has been plagued with failures, including a recent malfunction of its key subsystems. USGS said its engineers have identified problems with the satellite’s amplifier that have led to a reduction in image download capabilities over the past 10 days.
In the case of a complete shutdown of Landsat 5, the USGS can still collect global imagery from the Landsat 7 satellite, which remains in orbit even though the 12-year-old satellite was designed for a five-year service life. The Landsat 8 program, also known as the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, is currently scheduled for launch in January 2013.