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Posted at 04:39 PM ET, 07/23/2012

NASA’s Landsat turns 40

This post has been updated.

It’s one anniversary after another at NASA, it seems.

While the first moonwalk turned 43 this past Friday, Landsat, the Earth -observing satellite program, turned 40 Monday. NASA and the Interior Department announced the satellite system’s anniversary Monday, describing it as ”the world’s longest-running Earth-observing satellite program.”

In addition to a press release announcing the anniversary, NASA also released composite images taken via the Landsat program. The six composites were selected by NASA in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey from 172 public submissions. The photos show how landscapes have changed over 40 years.

NASA also announced the Landsat images voted by the public as the five best of a total of 120 images taken and color-treated by the USGS. The photos were announced during an event at the Newseum on Monday. In addition to the photos and a discussion of the history of Landsat, a new service, LandsatLook was also announced.

The first Landsat satellite, Landsat 1, was launched on July 23, 1972, with six succsssive launches to follow. Landsat 4’s data downlink capability failed in 1993, following its launch in 1982. Landsat 6 failed to launch in 1993, while Landsat 7, launched in 1999, is currently in operation. The Landsat Data Continuity Mission, the next generation of the Landsat program, is scheduled to launch no earlier than January 2013 from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard the Atlas 5 rocket. The program is scheduled to last for five years.

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