In honor of Landsat 5's 28th birthday on March 1st, the video below shows how Las Vegas has gone through a massive growth spurt. The outward expansion of the city is shown in a false-color time lapse of data from all the Landsat satellites.
These images were created using reflected light from the near-infrared, red and green portions of the electromagnetic spectrum (Landsat 5 TM bands 4,3,2 and Landsat 1-3 MSS bands 4,2,1). The large red areas are actually green space, mostly golf courses and city parks. You might notice that the images become a lot sharper around 1984 when new instrument designs greatly increased their sensitivity.
Landsat data have been instrumental to our increased understanding of forest fires, storm damage, agricultural trends, and urban growth. Studies using Landsat data have helped land managers keep track of the pace of urbanization in locations around the world.
The next Landsat satellite, now known as LDCM and later as Landsat 8 is scheduled for a launch in January 2013.