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Celebrating 30 Years of imaging the earth

On July 23, 1972, NASA launched the first Landsat satellite beginning what is now the longest record of the Earth’s continental surfaces as seen from space. It is a record unmatched in quality, detail, coverage and value. This 30-year archive of imagery, a scientific partnership between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), provides an invaluable historical record that helps us understand and protect our home planet.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the first Landsat launch, NASA and the USGS have assembled an exhibit called “Landsat: Earth as Art.” These images, created by the USGS EROS Data Centre using Landsat 7 data, introduce the general public to the Landsat Program, administered jointly by USGS and NASA. The USGS operates Landsat 5 and 7 and manages the national archive of data collected by all of the Landsat satellites, distributing these data to researchers around the world.

The “Landsat: Earth as Art” exhibit highlights 41 images that were selected on the basis of aesthetic appeal. The exhibit opens July 23 at the Library of Congress in Washington. A selection of the “Landsat: Earth as Art” images will be on display in the Senate Russell Office Building Rotunda in Washington, July 22-26, and the fall at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix. Another similar exhibit is currently on display in Rapid City, S.D., at the Children’s Science Center.

The first Landsat, originally called ERTS, for Earth Resources Technology Satellite, was developed and launched by NASA in 1972. Landsat 5 is still transmitting images and the Landsat 7 mission has built upon the historic strengths of the Landsat program. The low cost of Landsat 7 data, as well as the elimination of data copyright, has fostered an environment in which users are free to experiment with novel applications, and use large quantities of data for existing applications.

Landsat is part of NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise, a long-term research effort to understand and protect our home planet. Through the study of Earth, NASA will help to provide sound science to policy and economic decision makes so as to better life here, while developing the technologies needed to explore the universe and search for life beyond our home planet.