Landsat 3

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Landsat 3
Artist's rendering of Landsat 3.
Mission type Earth imaging
Operator NASA
COSPAR ID 1978-026A[1]
SATCAT № 10702[1]
Mission duration 5 years, 6 months, 2 days
Spacecraft properties
Bus Nimbus
Launch mass 960.0 kilograms (2,116.4 lb)[2]
Start of mission
Launch date March 5, 1978 (1978-03-05)
Rocket Delta 2910
Launch site Vandenberg AFB SLC-2W
End of mission
Deactivated September 7, 1983
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Sun-synchronous
Perigee 818 kilometers (508 mi)
Apogee 918 kilometers (570 mi)
Inclination 99.1 degrees
Period 103.16 minutes
Epoch May 15, 1990[1]

Landsat 3 is the third satellite of the Landsat program. It was launched on March 5, 1978, with the primary goal of providing a global archive of satellite imagery (satellite data are called images and not photos because they are not just reflected light exposure, but recordings of radiative electromagnetic energy fluxes of surface materials). Unlike later Landsats, Landsat 3 was managed solely by NASA. Landsat 3 is no longer in operation, having been decommissioned on September 7, 1983, far beyond its designed life expectancy of one year.[3]


Landsat 3 had essentially the same design as Landsat 2. It carried a Multi-Spectral Scanner, which had a maximum 75 meters (246 ft) resolution. Unlike the previous two Landsat missions, a thermal band was built into Landsat 3's Multi-Spectral Scanner, but this instrument failed shortly after the satellite was deployed.[4] Landsat 3 was placed into a polar orbit at about 920 kilometers (570 mi), and took 18 days to cover the entire Earth's surface.


  1. ^ a b c McDowell, Jonathan. "Satellite Catalog". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ "NSSDC Master Catalog". NASA. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  3. ^ United States Geological Survey (August 9, 2006). "Landsat 3 History". Retrieved January 16, 2007. 
  4. ^ "Landsat 3". NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. March 13, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014.