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Return Beam Vidicon Camera System

NSSDCA ID: 1972-058A-01

Mission Name: Landsat 1
Principal Investigator:Mr. Oscar Weinstein


The Landsat 1 Return Beam Vidicon (RBV) camera system contained three independent cameras taking pictures of earth scenes simultaneously in three different spectral bands from blue-green (0.47 to 0.575 micrometer) through yellow-red (0.58 to 0.68 micrometer) to near IR (0.69 to 0.83 micrometer). Since these measured reflected solar radiation, the RBV was operated only in daylight. While designed primarily to obtain information for earth resource type studies, the RBV camera system also conducted meteorological studies, i.e., to investigate atmospheric attenuation and to observe mesoscale phenomena, winter monsoon clouds (Japan), snow cover, etc. The three earth-oriented cameras were mounted to a common base, which was structurally isolated from the spacecraft to maintain accurate alignment. Each camera contained an optical lens, a 5.08-cm RBV, a thermoelectric cooler, deflection and focus coils, a mechanical shutter, erase lamps, and sensor electronics. The cameras were similar except for the spectral filters contained in the lens assemblies that provided separate spectral viewing regions. The viewed ground scene, 185 by 185 km in area, was stored on the photosensitive surface of the camera tube, and, after shuttering, the image was scanned by an electron beam to produce a video signal output. Each camera was read out sequentially, requiring about 3.5 s for each of the spectral images. The cameras were operated every 25 s to produce overlapping images along the direction of spacecraft motion. Video data from the RBV were transmitted (2265.5 MHz) in both real-time and tape recorder modes. From a nominal spacecraft altitude of 900 km, the RBV had a horizontal resolution of about 0.7 km. Data from this experiment are handled by the NASA Data Processing Facility, GSFC, Greenbelt, Md., and are available to approved investigators and agencies through its Landsat users services section. All other interested persons may obtain data from the Earth Resources Data Center, Department of the Interior, Sioux Falls, S.D. The RBV was turned off on August 6, 1972, due to excessive power drain in the spacecraft electrical system.

Alternate Names

  • Landsat1/RBV
  • RBV

Funding Agency

  • Unknown (United States)


  • Earth Science: Land Surface Processes

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. Thomas M. RaglandOther InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Mr. Oscar WeinsteinPrincipal InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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