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Landsat data users handbook

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50th Anniversary of Landsat

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The Landsat Program has provided decades of calibrated high spatial resolution data of the Earth's surface to a broad and varied user community, including agribusiness, global change researchers, academia, state and local governments, commercial users, national security agencies, the international community, decision makers, and the general public. Landsat images provide information meeting the broad and diverse needs of business, science, education, government, and national security.

The mission of the Landsat Program is to provide repetitive acquisition of moderate-resolution multispectral data of the Earth's surface on a global basis. Landsat represents the only source of global, calibrated, moderate spatial resolution measurements of the Earth's surface that are preserved in a national archive and freely available to the public. The data from the Landsat spacecraft constitute the longest record of the Earth's continental surfaces as seen from space. It is a record unmatched in quality, detail, coverage, and value.

The Landsat 8 observatory offers these features:

Data Continuity: Landsat 8 is the latest in a continuous series of land remote sensing satellites that began in 1972.

Global Survey Mission: Landsat 8 data systematically builds and periodically refreshes a global archive of sun-lit, substantially cloud-free images of the Earth's landmass.

Free Standard Data Products: Landsat 8 data products are available through the USGS EROS Center at no charge.

Radiometric and Geometric Calibration: Data from the two sensors, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS), are calibrated to better than 5% uncertainty in terms of top-of-atmosphere reflectance or absolute spectral radiance, and having an absolute geodetic accuracy better than 65 meters circular error at 90% confidence (CE 90).

Responsive Delivery: Automated request processing systems provide products electronically within 48 hours of order (nominally much faster).

The continuation of the Landsat Program is an integral component of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and will be used to address a number of science priorities, such as land cover change and land use dynamics. Landsat 8 is part of a global research program known as NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, a long-term program that is studying changes in Earth's global environment. In the Landsat Program tradition, Landsat 8 continues to provide critical information to those who characterize, monitor, manage, explore, and observe the land surfaces of Earth over time.

The U.S. Geological Survey has a long history as a national leader in land cover and land use mapping and monitoring. Landsat data, including Landsat 8 and archive holdings, are essential for USGS efforts to document the rates and causes of land cover and land use change, and to address the linkages between land cover and use dynamics on water quality and quantity, biodiversity, energy development, and many other environmental topics. In addition, the USGS is working toward the provision of long-term environmental records that describe ecosystem disturbances and conditions...


Version 1.0 / June 2015


Landsat Continues to Create New Ways of Seeing

  • 'Open' satellite imagery, science and data
  • Applying science to real-world mapping
  • Creating new industries, reshaping how business works
  • And providing essential environmental, eco-nomic guidance



October 11, 2016 / Looking into the past to see the future on Earth Observation Day



Stewart Udall proposes 'Earth Observation' program, 1966 launch - http://eros.usgs.gov/udall50thanniversary/udall.php


President Reagan moves to cancel Landsat, George Brown acts to continue Landsat

George Brown's political action saved the Landsat program. The Congressman out in front of "big science" for decades was a key figure in the Landsat program, the long-running database of imagery of Earth that is moving on to its fifth decade with Landsat 9 (and open access) as a result of Brown's efforts. On the House science committee for over 30 years, George led an array of science efforts, including one that greens look to as prescient -- he drafted legislation establishing the first national climate change research program via the National Climate Program Act of 1978. Congressman Brown, from 1964 until his untimely passing in 1999, was a mentor for your GreenPolicy Siterunner.

Big Picture Visionaries from California

Two who worked to make Earth Science from Space a reality, George Brown, California representative from East LA, and Jerry Brown, "Governor Moonbeam", per Mike Royko.

"Now some people say they're going to turn off the satellites that are monitoring the climate... low-earth phenomena, the LANDSAT and all the various measuring satellites that we have...

"Well, I remember back in 1978 I proposed a LANDSAT satellite for California. They called me 'Governor Moonbeam' because of that. I didn't get that moniker for nothing."

Governor Jerry Brown

George E. Brown Jr

NASA: Earth Sciences


Landsat 9 Is Coming

Landsat 9 will propel the program past 50 years of collecting global land cover data

A New Satellite for One of the Great U.S. Space Programs

Landsat 9 will launch in 2023, and promises the continuity of a critical, long-running database for imagery of the Earth's surface

d#EarthScience -- https://www.greenpolicy360.net/w/Category:Earth_Science_from_Space





Landsat Science: Gavin Schmidt EarthSky Science Communicator of the Year

EarthSky, a radio program that brings current science ideas, strategies, and research results to people worldwide, has announced the selection of Dr. Gavin A. Schmidt as the 2011 EarthSky Science Communicator of the Year. Schmidt was voted for this honor overwhelmingly by EarthSky’s Global Science Advisor committee made up of over a thousand participants.

Schmidt works on climate modeling at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. He coauthored Climate Change: Picturing the Science in 2009. In his recent EarthSky interview, Schmidt talked about the importance of describing science as a work in progress, an ongoing process. He is convinced that sharing scientists’ stories with the public—the details of how and why they conduct their research—is as important as the results that make the news. Schmidt considers science “one of the greatest, most successful human endeavors that we’ve ever embarked upon.” While looking at graphs and equations can be an esoteric endeavor, people generally have a visceral response to images of changes in the landscape and of scientist at work.

Dr. Schmidt interviewed / March 2012 -- http://earthsky.org/earth/gavin-schmidt-on-communicating-climate-change

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Making the Dream Real

Remembering Stewart and George, Two Who Dreamt Was Could Be -- and Made It Happen

And here's to today's generation who are making dreams of 'big science' a living reality

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Read More:

#PlanetCitizen -- http://www.planetcitizen.org



How Landsat Data Can Become Amazing Maps

NASA Scientific Visualization Studio

US River Basin Maps

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Landsat is shaping the new Google Mapping future... A science dream made real as we see change-over-time --- the Columbia Glacier

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