Over the last 30 years Landsat 5 has orbited the earth a total of 150,000 times, and transmitted roughly 2.5 million images back to earths surface. Now, after a fatal gyro failure, the imaging satellite that was originally designed for a three year mission is finally being decommissioned.
Over the past 3 decades, if a natural disaster occurred, Landsat 5 photographed the from-space photos the public saw. It has malfunctioned in the past, but the malfunctions were always recoverable. In 2011 imaging was suspended due to a transmission error and now a gyro has failed permanently, rendering the satellite unfit for duty.
Landsat 5's death leaves the USGS with only one functioning bird in space, Landsat 7. Another USGS satellite is set to launch in February of 2013 though and has been named... you guessed it, Landsat 8.