The first Landsat satellite was launched in 1972, and last Monday marked the program's 40th anniversary. Seven generations of satellites have since been looking back at Earth and tracking the changes that our species is making through millions of multispectral images covering the entire globe, and here are the five best of them.
The Landsat program is still going strong, with the next generation of satellite (pictured in the rendering above) slated for a 2013 launch. The The Landsat Data Continuity Mission will continue recording the evolution of our planet in the visible, near-infrared, short wave infrared, and thermal infrared spectra, ensuring decades more spectacular images like the ones in the gallery below. These are the top five images from NASA's Earth as Art sets, chosen by a Facebook poll, and we have them for you below complete with captions from the U.S. Geological Survey committee.
Landsat images courtesy NASA.