Landsat Turns Forty In 1965, the U.S. Geological Survey proposed the idea of a remote sensing satellite program to gather facts about the natural resources of Earth. In 1970, NASA had permission to build Landsat 1, which was launched forty years ago this week. Since then, the Landsat series of satellites has collected millions of multi-spectral images that make it possible to study the long-term environmental effects of everything from natural coastal erosion to urban sprawl. The image above was taken by Landsat 7, the newest member of the Landsat family. It shows the delta of the Lena River, one of the largest rivers in the world. The Lena Delta Reserve is the most extensive protected wilderness area in Russia. It is an important refuge and breeding grounds for many species of Siberian wildlife.