Formerly known as the Earth Resources Technology Satellite, Landsat is a series of U.S. satellites designed to observe the Earth's surface in different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Applications from such observations are: forecasting crop production around the world; assisting in soil and forestry management; locating energy and mineral resources; and assessing urban population densities. Landsat 1 was launched July 23, 1972, and turned off in January 1978. Landsats are the property of the federal government. In 1984 their management was transferred to a private firm, the Earth Observation Satellite Co., a joint venture of RCA Corporation and Hughes Aircraft Co.