Greatest Images Collected by Landsat Satellite, 1972-2013
Greatest Images Collected by Landsat Satellite, 1972-2013
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)

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)

Beijing Grows from Ancient City to Mega City, 1978-2010: Between 1972 and 2010, Beijing's population swelled from  7.9 million people to over 12 million. The false-color image on the left shows the city on June 21, 1978, and on the right on Aug. 8, 2010. Before 1979, building housing was limited in the ancient city, which is seen demarcated by canals and roads. (Robert Simmon/NASA/Landsat 3 & 5 data from the USGS Global Visualization Viewer)

Beijing Grows from Ancient City to Mega City, 1978-2010: Between 1972 and 2010, Beijing's population swelled from 7.9 million people to over 12 million. The false-color image on the left shows the city on June 21, 1978, and on the right on Aug. 8, 2010. Before 1979, building housing was limited in the ancient city, which is seen demarcated by canals and roads. (Robert Simmon/NASA/Landsat 3 & 5 data from the USGS Global Visualization Viewer)

Mt. St. Helens after the eruption, Sept. 24, 1980: This image was taken 4 months after Mt. St. Helens erupted. The eruption caused the northern flank the mountain to collapse, causing the largest landslide in recorded history. About 14 miles (23 km) of the North Fork Toutle River was buried with up to 600 feet (180 meters) of rocks, dirt, and trees. Comparing the two images shows how the extent of the vegetation loss. (Earth Observatory/NASA)

Mt. St. Helens after the eruption, Sept. 24, 1980: This image was taken 4 months after Mt. St. Helens erupted. The eruption caused the northern flank the mountain to collapse, causing the largest landslide in recorded history. About 14 miles (23 km) of the North Fork Toutle River was buried with up to 600 feet (180 meters) of rocks, dirt, and trees. Comparing the two images shows how the extent of the vegetation loss. (Earth Observatory/NASA)

Mt. St. Helens before the eruption, Aug. 29, 1979: On  May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens in Washington State (96 miles south of Seattle), erupted with a cataclysmic flank collapse, avalanche, and explosion. This false-color image, showing the vegetation as red, was taken approximately 9 months before the eruption. (Earth Observatory/NASA)

Mt. St. Helens before the eruption, Aug. 29, 1979: On May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens in Washington State (96 miles south of Seattle), erupted with a cataclysmic flank collapse, avalanche, and explosion. This false-color image, showing the vegetation as red, was taken approximately 9 months before the eruption. (Earth Observatory/NASA)

Mexico-Guatemala border, April 14, 1986: Usually, without a natural barrier like a mountain or river, the political boundary between countries is imperceptible from space. Not so at Mexico-Guatemala border. This image from 1988 shows the stark line of deforestation in Mexico, compared to the untouched forest in Guatemala. 
NASA image by Robert. (Simmon, using Landsat data)

Mexico-Guatemala border, April 14, 1986: Usually, without a natural barrier like a mountain or river, the political boundary between countries is imperceptible from space. Not so at Mexico-Guatemala border. This image from 1988 shows the stark line of deforestation in Mexico, compared to the untouched forest in Guatemala. NASA image by Robert. (Simmon, using Landsat data)

Kuwait, Feb. 22, 2001: On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraq invaded its neighbor Kuwait. Before it was all over, the U.S. had launched Desert Storm, the longest air strike in the history of aerial warfare. When Iraqi forces finally withdrew from Kuwait, they set fire to approximately 650 oil wells and damaged others. The black smoke fires burned for 10 months. (Matt Radcliffe, Landsat data/Earth Observatory/NASA)

Kuwait, Feb. 22, 2001: On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraq invaded its neighbor Kuwait. Before it was all over, the U.S. had launched Desert Storm, the longest air strike in the history of aerial warfare. When Iraqi forces finally withdrew from Kuwait, they set fire to approximately 650 oil wells and damaged others. The black smoke fires burned for 10 months. (Matt Radcliffe, Landsat data/Earth Observatory/NASA)

Antarctica: This is the first ever high-resolution, three-dimensional, true-color map of Antarctica. It was built using more than 1,100 images taken by Landsat 7 between 1999 and 2001. It took another 6 years to stitch it all together before it was finally released in 2007. (Image courtesy USGS, NASA, National Science Foundation, and the British Antarctic Survey)

Antarctica: This is the first ever high-resolution, three-dimensional, true-color map of Antarctica. It was built using more than 1,100 images taken by Landsat 7 between 1999 and 2001. It took another 6 years to stitch it all together before it was finally released in 2007. (Image courtesy USGS, NASA, National Science Foundation, and the British Antarctic Survey)

Rondônia, Western Brazil, 1975-2012: The two views of the forests of Rondonia show the extent of deforestation over 37 years. Access to the remote region began with two roads being cut through the dense forest, which can be seen in the left image. (NASA images courtesy Landsat team)

Rondônia, Western Brazil, 1975-2012: The two views of the forests of Rondonia show the extent of deforestation over 37 years. Access to the remote region began with two roads being cut through the dense forest, which can be seen in the left image. (NASA images courtesy Landsat team)

Qadisiyah Reservoir,  Iraq Sept. 7, 2006: Scientists have observed that Middle East freshwater reserves have rapidly declined over the past decade, mostly due to pumping from underground reservoirs. This image from Landsat 5 shows Iraq’s Qadisiyah Reservoir on Sept. 7, 2006. (Robert Simmon/NASA)

Qadisiyah Reservoir, Iraq Sept. 7, 2006: Scientists have observed that Middle East freshwater reserves have rapidly declined over the past decade, mostly due to pumping from underground reservoirs. This image from Landsat 5 shows Iraq’s Qadisiyah Reservoir on Sept. 7, 2006. (Robert Simmon/NASA)

Qadisiyah Reservoir,  Iraq Sept. 15, 2009: This image shows Iraq’s Qadisiyah Reservoir just over 3 years later. Shrinkage of water reserves  increased particularly after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to grow in the region overall—a region where there’s no coordinated water management. (Robert Simmon/NASA)

Qadisiyah Reservoir, Iraq Sept. 15, 2009: This image shows Iraq’s Qadisiyah Reservoir just over 3 years later. Shrinkage of water reserves increased particularly after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to grow in the region overall—a region where there’s no coordinated water management. (Robert Simmon/NASA)

Sakura-jima volcano, Nov.  23, 2013: Sakura-jima, Japan’s most active volcano, explodes hundreds of times per year sometimes producing plumes of ash as high as 12,000 feet (3,800 meters). On Nov. 23, 2013 it sent clouds of ash over Kyushu Island. (Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon/Earth Observatory/NASA)

Sakura-jima volcano, Nov. 23, 2013: Sakura-jima, Japan’s most active volcano, explodes hundreds of times per year sometimes producing plumes of ash as high as 12,000 feet (3,800 meters). On Nov. 23, 2013 it sent clouds of ash over Kyushu Island. (Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon/Earth Observatory/NASA)

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.      

 

 

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