Landsat 1

Launched on July 23, 1972 and carried the MSS (MultiSpectral Scanner) which imaged the earth from a 900 km altitude with green, red and two IR spectral bands at 80m resolution. It was originally called ERTS 1 (Earth Resources Technology Satellites) but renamed Landsat, and was designed after the Nimbus 4 meteorological satellite. Landsat 1 had a near-polar sun synchronous orbit and was also equipped with a three-camera return beam vidicon (RBV) system that could obtain visible and near IR photographic images of the earth. Landsat 1 was terminated on January 6, 1978, when the degradation of the orbit caused it to see almost constant sunlight which led to overheating.

The planning that led to the launch of Landsat began in 1967 as a collaborative effort by NASA and Dept of Interior (USGS). Landsat 1 was a test of the feasibility of an earth resources satellite system, and the determination of the spectral wavelengths was primarily based on forestry and geologic applications that had traditionally used Color IR photography. The MSS sensor was carried on Landsat-1 and subsequently on Landsat-2 and 3. The MSS sensor became secondary to the TM sensor on Landsat-4 and Landsat 5 (which operated for 17 years), the last MSS image to be received in Australia was on the November 30, 1997.

Landsat is the only source of historical image data for many parts of the world and MSS data are become extremely useful in studies of change. For more information on the Landsat program so here.

Landsat 1 MSS data demonstrated the utility of satellite data, below are some early examples. 
1975 Landuse Classification - Click to Enlarge
1975 MSS Change Detection - Click to Enlarge
1975 Landuse - Click to Enlarge

Lake Chad in the Saheli region of western Africa Landsat MSS 1972 vs Landsat TM 1987

MSS Image of a Mississippi Ox Bow (note the scan lines)

Brazil Deforestation 
Landsat mss June, 19 1975 vs
Landsat TM August 19, 1986

Wyoming snow cover 1973, 1974 and 1975

Mt St Helens

Yellowstone National Park
1972 vs 1989


Landsat MSS Image
Kona Hawaii

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