Below are three examples of Landsat-4 TM imagery in color. We refrain here from displaying any of the individual black and white TM bands because Section 1 presents and examines excellent examples of these from a subscene of Morro Bay, California.
The first TM image is a late Fall, false color (TM bands 2, 3, 5 in blue, green, and red) rendition of mountain ranges in southeastern California and western Nevada. The large valley towards the left is Death Valley, with the Panamint Range to its left. The large range near the upper right is the Spring Mountains, whose reddish tones indicate vegetation (mixed evergreens and deciduous trees). The bottom of the image includes the north edge of the Mojave Desert.
The second scene is an 80 km (50 mile) enlargement of part of a TM image covering the Sonoran Desert of northwest Mexico (a bit of the Gulf of California appears in the lower left), shown here in true color. Star and crescentic sand dunes dominate this subscene in this vast sand sea deposited over igneous lavas. The dark patches in the upper right are volcanic lavas but the dark mass to its southwest is the Sierra del Rosario, composed of granitic rocks.
The third TM image is also a subscene, about 70 km (43 miles) on a side, in west-central Mexico. Mexico City, with the largest urban population in the western hemisphere (about 30 million), appears in this false color version as the medium blue area in the upper left part of the image. Note that its area is much less than that of Los Angeles (one of the opening scenes in Section 4), indicating a high population density, i.e., crowding. The city lies at an average elevation of 2800 meters (9184 feet) astride the Neo-Volcanic Plateau, a zone that runs across Mexico and is seismically active. Just off the image to the right is a cluster of active volcanoes including the famed Popocatepetl which is over 5100 meters (almost 17000 feet).
For comparison, we reproduce below a subscene imaged in 1973 by the first Landsat MSS. The area shown occupies about 2/3rds of the TM scene, pinned to the upper right corner. Draw your own conclusion about the relative details seen in the TM versus the MSS. Note that the size of Mexico City was not much smaller then even though its population was just over 7.5 million. The two images, when compared, illustrate the concept of change detection.
A Landsat-4 TM subscene shows the Cape Canaveral area of the east-central coast, where NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is located. Note the many individual launch sites. Compare this image with the RBV image of the same location shown near the bottom of page I-2-15.
A Landsat TM subscene in quasi-natural color that pinpoints many of the buildings and launch facilities at NASA�s Kennedy Space Center. The Banana (right) and Indian (left) inlets are visible as is part of Titusville on the mainland.
Landsat 7 has come on line in April of 1999 after its last working predecessor, Landsat 5 (remember, Landsat 6 failed to orbit), had continued to operate faithfully for 15 years (since 1984). Landsat 7 has only a single instrument (those who argued for including an MSS to maintain continuity lost the argument), called the Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+). A cutaway diagram of this instrument appears below:
The instrument consists of the same 6 bands in the Visible and Near Infrared as the TMs, again at 30 m resolution. The thermal band has an increase in spatial resolution by a factor of 2 - to 60 meters. The new component is a panchromatic (0.52 to 0.90 µm) black and white sensor (somewhat analogous to the RBV) which images at a 15 meter spatial resolution. The Landsat 7 program is operated jointed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the U.S. Geological Survey. Here are some representative scenes.
The first scene acquired by Landsat 7 covers a part of southeastern South Dakota that includes the city of Sioux Falls. The U.S. Geological Survey's EROS Data Center (EDC), where Landsat imagery can be inspected and ordered, lies just off the image to the right.
Part of the Landsat 7 panchromatic image of this same scene, showing a portion of Sioux Falls, with individual buildings now resolvable, is presented next.
Another urban area is seen in this quasi-natural color Landsat 7 subscene of the "Peninsula" area south of San Francisco. At the top is the San Mateo Bridge and Foster City (just beneath its west terminus), a residential area built on extensive fill into the San Francisco Bay, thus on newly created land. The Dumbarton Bridge near the bottom right leads into Palo Alto, home of Stanford University. Note the salt pans to the left of the bridge. The lake - actually the Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir - near the bottom left lies right on top of the infamous San Andreas Fault Zone. The nearby road (a 100 feet or so higher) is Interstate 280.
As of September 1, 2010, Landsats 5 and 7 are still operational. Both spacecraft have experienced threatening malfunctions, and some subsystems have failed leading to problems over the years, but clever engineers have found ways to maintain their imaging capability. This illustrations records the difficulties encountered by Landsat 5 as well as some of the solutions:
For those interested in the history of the Landsat program, click on this 11 page summary : http://geo.arc.nasa.gov/sge/landsat/lpchron.html. This Chronology was prepared for NASA at its Ames Research Center. They also maintain a general information bulletin board on Landsat (which includes the above historical perspective) that you can access at http://geo.arc.nasa.gov/sge/landsat/landsat.html. And for those curious about Landsat's future, read the paragraph that considers this on page 20-1, located just before the "Some Future Thoughts" subsection.
So, what's the future for the Landsat program? Users worldwide have gotten used to relying on Landsat for a wide range of applications. Despite the many newer satellites that perform similar functions, there is a strong clamor for maintaining continuity of data gathering and image acquisition. NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey have been charged by Congress with designing a workable program to continue Landsat after the current satellites lose functionality. This is referred to as the "Landsat Data Continuity Mission 2011". Occasional general information about the LDCM can be found at this USGS Landsat site.