Growth of Central Pivot Irrigation, Kansas, 1972 and 2011: Over the past 60 years, farmers in America’s breadbasket have been pumping groundwater for irrigation using a technique called “center-pivot irrigation.” The image shows Garden City, Kansas on Aug. 16, 1972 (L), and Aug. 14, 2011 (R). The false-color images show healthy vegetarian as bright red, and sparse grasslands or fallow fields as shades of green. (Robert Simmon/NASA/Landsat data from the USGS Global Visualization Viewer)
The Landsat 1 satellite was launched into orbit by NASA on July 23, 1972, marking the beginning of the longest continuous observation of Earth from outer space. Landsat 8, the most recent satellite in the series, was launched on Feb. 11, 2013. The millions of images collected over the last 40 plus years have allowed scientists to observe changes on the Earth’s surface in terms of agriculture, forestry, geology. The program has also been used as a tool for regional planning, cartography, and surveillance.
Here are some of the most striking and memorable images collected from the Landsat program.