In the 1970s NASA inaugurated the Landsat series of satellites to study the Earth's surface from space. The program demonstrated the practical benefits of space-based mapping and study of the Earth's natural resources continuously and on a global basis.
This artifact is a full-scale model of the Thematic Mapper (TM) instrument first used on Landsat 4, which launched in 1982 and operated until 1993. As the instrument flew over the Earth it "saw" only selected wavelengths of light that, when processed, provided information on the condition of land, water, and vegetation. Compared to instruments on the first generation Landsat satellites, TM collected data in more wavelengths and with greater resolution. It worked in tandem with the satellite's other major instrument, the Multi-Spectral Scanner (MSS), providing a greatly improved range and quality of data on Earth resources.
The Santa Barbara Research Center donated the model to the Museum in 1985.
Gift of Santa Barbara Research Center, Hughes Aircraft Co.