In July of 1972, NASA launched the first Landsat satellite into orbit around Earth. Since then, the spacecraft and its successors have transformed our understanding of Antarctica (and the rest of the planet, too). In the first year following the launch, Landsat’s images of the faraway continent showed “uncharted mountain ranges, vast ice movements and errors in maps as little as two years old,” according to an article published in Science News. William MacDonald of the U.S. Geological Survey, who had spent eight years mapping a part of West Antarctica, was “shocked” to learn of previously unknown peaks just 100 miles from McMurdo Station.
Landsat’s images weren’t the first overhead shots of Antarctica, but to this day the