As detailed in a previous Wisconsin Mapping Bulletin article, Landsat 5 image acquisition was suspended for 90 days in November 2011 when a transmission component showed signs of failure. The suspension was extended in February, 2012, as engineers continued to explore options for other sensors on board the satellite.
In April, 2012, Landsat 5 captured and downloaded Multispectral Scanner (MSS) images for the first time in over a decade. The MSS sensor is an older, lower-resolution sensor first flown on Landsat 1 in 1972. The Landsat 5 MSS was turned off in the 1990s, but was then reactivated to determine the current state of the sensor. MSS data are currently being collected over the United States. Imagery is being archived but distribution will not occur until the necessary product generation capabilities are developed.
The Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) sensor was reactivated in late April, 2012, to determine the state of the electronics problem that suspended operations in November, 2011. To date, engineers have not been able to alleviate the technical problems, which severely limits any further acquisitions with the TM.
Landsat 7 continues to provide TM data despite a malfunction that limits data utility.
Meanwhile development continues on the Landsat Data Continuity Mission to meet a January, 2013, launch date.