Pictures of a Decaying Satellite

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) -run Landsat 8 Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) imagery satellite’s primary job is to take pictures of the Earth.  But occasionally, like teenagers with new camera phones, Landsat 8 feels compelled to take pictures of other satellites.  Really—you can see the evidence here in this Yahoo! Post .  In this case, Landsat 8 took pictures of Landsat 5 below it.  Why is Landsat 5 lower than Landsat 8?

Landsat 5 is no longer operational, so NASA decided to move it to a decaying orbit in which the satellite will eventually burn up in Earth’s atmosphere—20 years from now.  So in the meantime, it’s picture-taking time.  Landsat 8 is still operational.  It also has several different “color bands” for its optical camera sensor.  So there are several images of Landsat 5 on Yahoo!’s page, but they look different because each image used a different band.

For more information about color bands, you can always go to my LEO lessons for imagery, starting with Lesson 15, here.

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