January 2015


Moore and Surui chief
Jan 28, 2015Wrangling a Petabyte of Data to Better View the Earth

When viewed from space, clouds largely obscure the Earth. It isn’t a matter of time of day, angle or distance. It’s just the way it is – unless, of course, you are gazing at the planet using Google Earth. The story of how Google Earth offers [...]

USGS Landsat 8 TIRS Update
Jan 27, 2015USGS Landsat 8 TIRS Update

On December 19 the TIRS instrument on Landsat 8 was reconfigured due to detection of anomalous current levels associated with the scene select mirror encoder electronics. Since that time substantial testing has been conducted to isolate the root [...]

Turkana women gathering water
Jan 26, 2015Water Mapping Technology Rebuilds Lives in Arid Regions

Turkana County in northwest Kenya has been reeling from several years of crippling drought. As a consequence, the nomadic peoples in the region have suffered. Livestock such as goats and cattle, the sole source of income for these pastoralists, [...]

Darrel Williams
Jan 21, 2015The View from Over 2,000,000 Feet

The NASA Landsat 7 Project Scientist, Darrel Williams, was recently featured in the AgScience magazine of his alma mater. In an article titled “Oh! The Places We Go” reporter Maureen Harmon spoke to Penn State Ag Sciences graduates about the [...]

Landsat Seen as Stunning Return on Public Investment
Jan 15, 2015Landsat Seen as Stunning Return on Public Investment

Orbiting Earth more than 400 miles away in space, far from human view; recording repeated images of land around the globe for more than 42 years; offering customers petabytes of historical and current data for free, the Landsat program of Earth [...]

Landsat 8 team with award
Jan 7, 2015Pecora, ISPRS, IAG Joint Symposium Presents Prestigious Awards

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) presented a number of prestigious awards during the Pecora 19 Symposium in conjunction with the Joint Symposium of ISPRS [...]

Landsat Images Provided to the International Charter in  Dec. 2014
Dec 31, 2014Landsat Images Provided to the International Charter in Dec. 2014

The International Charter is a system that supplies free satellite imagery to emergency responders anywhere in the world.

cloudless satellite composite image
Dec 23, 2014Mapbox: Innovating with Landsat

Mapbox is a cloud-based map platform startup that creates custom maps with open source tools. The team at Mapbox consists of over fifty cartographers, data analysts and software engineers, located in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, [...]

Aspen Tree Trunks
Dec 22, 2014SilviaTerra: Landsat Use by a Forestry Start-up

SilviaTerra is a four-year-old start-up company with five full-time employees that is contributing to the change in the way forests are managed in the United States. The company provides next-generation, highly accurate forest inventory data to [...]

geospatial processing
Dec 21, 2014Virginia Tech Geospatial Studies and Landsat

Early iterations of geospatial technologies have been around for more than a century. The first remote sensing was from balloons in the mid-1800s, and aerial photography began in the 1930s. But the 1972 launch of Landsat 1, the first [...]

Uinta Mountains
Dec 19, 2014U.S. Forest Service Uses Landsat to Improve Estimates of Forest Disturbance

Each year the U.S. Forest Service takes a census of trees, chronicling the nation’s forest heath and timber resources. Forest managers use this information to project what U.S. forests will be like in coming decades and, if needed, to adjust [...]

Water released from Morelos Dam
Dec 18, 2014Landsat Satellite Sees Green-up Along Colorado River’s Delta After Experimental Flow

A pulse of water released down the lower reaches of the Colorado River last spring resulted in more than a 40 percent increase in green vegetation where the water flowed, as seen by the Landsat 8 satellite. The March 2014 release of water – an [...]

Call for Papers: A Special Issue of Remote Sensing of Environment on Landsat 8 Science Results
Dec 18, 2014Call for Papers: A Special Issue of Remote Sensing of Environment on Landsat 8 Science Results

With the launch of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) in February 2013, the already unprecedented Landsat global record continues and could reach 50 years or longer in length. LDCM, renamed, Landsat 8 when the mission was declared [...]

From the River to the Sea
Dec 18, 2014From the River to the Sea

A pulse of water released down the lower reaches of the Colorado River last spring resulted in more than a 40 percent increase in green vegetation where the water flowed, as seen by the Landsat 8 satellite. The March 2014 release of water – an [...]

AGU logo
Dec 15, 2014Landsat at the Fall 2014 AGU Meeting

At this year's AGU Fall meeting over 300 presentations will feature research work done with the use of Landsat data. The Landsat-related papers and posters run the gamut of disciplines from cryosphere to biogeoscience to hydrology to global [...]

aerial photo of study area
Dec 10, 2014Mapping Permafrost in the Alaskan Yukon River Basin

The distribution of permafrost is generally poorly mapped at regional scales. This presents a problem for resource managers and modelers trying to understand the distribution and extent of permafrost susceptible to a warming climate. To better [...]

Landsat data stack
Dec 9, 2014Unleashing Climate Data and Innovation for more Resilient Ecosystems

Ecosystems provide vast services and benefits to humankind: food and water that is needed for survival; nutrients and other natural products that fuel farms and industries; natural controls on many pests and pathogens; storage of carbon safely [...]

Landsat scenes used by LANDFIRE
Dec 2, 201444,000 Landsat Scenes and Counting

LANDFIRE National used approximately 5,340 Landsat scenes to map CONUS, Alaska and Hawaii. Landfire continues to rely on Landsat imagery for updates. There were 13,185 scenes processed from 1984-2009 to capture landscape change for CONUS for the [...]

International Charter’s Landsat Image Ingests for Nov. 2014
Nov 30, 2014International Charter’s Landsat Image Ingests for Nov. 2014

This month, 212 Landsat scenes were ingested to help create maps.

Nov. 2014 PE&RS cover
Nov 28, 2014PE&RS Landsat Legacy Interview

The November issue of PE&RS featured a two-and-a-half page interview with the Landsat Legacy team in its Professional Insight section.

cranberry bogs
Nov 27, 2014Looking at Cranberry Bogs with Landsat

Whether it’s cranberry relish, cranberry fluff, cranberry sauce, cranberry salad, or cranberry salsa you’ll be enjoying today, it’s fun to see where cranberries grow. A series of commercial cranberry beds can be seen on this Oct. 6, 1999 Landsat [...]

William T. Pecora
Nov 18, 20142014 William T. Pecora Award Winners

This afternoon at the Pecora 19 conference in Denver, Colorado, the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA presented a group Pecora Award to The Landsat 8 Team.

Remembering Don Gray
Nov 16, 2014Remembering Don Gray

Don Gray, the founder of the Australian Landsat Station, passed away on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. It was through his vision and leadership that the Australian Government invested in the Australian Landsat Station in 1979.

Irons talking to Calandrelli.
Nov 15, 2014The Granddaddy of Them All

Xploration Outer Space aired an episode on satellites today. The premise of this episode was: “Thousands of satellites orbit the Earth everyday, helping us in ways that we may not even be aware of. But how are they made? Where do they live in [...]

Kamchatka volcanoes
Nov 14, 2014Kamchatka: The Erupting Peninsula

Explorer Stepan Krasheninnikov first pointed it out in 1755: “Perhaps there is no other region in the world where so many volcanoes and hot springs are to be found in so small a space as here on Kamchatka.” There may not be another land mass on [...]

Tesso Nilo National Park
Nov 11, 2014Tesso Nilo National Park

Established in 2004, Tesso Nilo National Park in Sumatra encompasses an area of rich plant diversity and provides habitat for Sumatran elephants and tigers.

USDA image of irrigated fields in an arid area
Nov 11, 2014Where the Water Goes

The Landsat satellite series has proven to be a perfect match to the needs of modern irrigated agriculture and water resources management. The 30 m spatial resolution permits the viewing of field scale characteristics of water consumption, which [...]

CA reservoir losses
Nov 10, 2014Visualizing the California Drought with Open Data

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Center for Integrated Data Analytics (CIDA) has created an open source visual description of California’s ongoing drought—one of the most severe droughts on record. Landsat data were among some of the many open [...]

Forum sharable
Nov 7, 2014Upcoming Forum: Changing Landscapes Observed From Space

This Saturday a NASA Climate Change Forum is being held at Howard Community College in Maryland. The forum will focus on urban, agricultural, and forest changes in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that result from development and climate change. The [...]

A Landsat thermal image with banding
Oct 31, 2014Landsat Ghostbusters—How the Landsat Calibration Team Caught a Ghost

Shortly after the launch of Landsat 8, the calibration team noticed something strange: bright and dark stripes, or “banding” was showing up across certain images collected by the satellite’s Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS). Prelaunch testing of [...]

Charter logo
Oct 31, 2014International Charter’s Landsat Image Ingests for Oct. 2014

The International Charter is a system that supplies free satellite imagery to emergency responders anywhere in the world.

L8 image of Juneau, Alaska
Oct 30, 2014Over 20 Million Landsat Scenes Downloaded

Since 2008, all Landsat data—archived and newly acquired—have been available for free download. On September 16, 2014, users worldwide downloaded over 14,000 scenes from the servers at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) [...]

boat in the Sundarbans
Oct 29, 2014Mapping South Asia’s Mangroves

Along the sea’s edge in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, the dense coastal population lives largely in symbiosis with the region’s mangrove forests. Mangroves—a vast network of intertidal trees and shrubs with their characteristic [...]

fall foliage from Landsat 8
Oct 27, 2014Fantastic Fall Foliage

In this natural color Landsat 8 image of New York’s Finger Lake region acquired on Oct. 24, 2014, fall foliage colors of orange, rust, and sage can be seen surrounding the vivid blue lakes, bringing to mind a line from L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of [...]

One-millionth MSS image
Oct 23, 2014Looking Back—The Millionth MSS Image

This Landsat (MSS) image, acquired by Landsat 2 on May 27, 1981 (WRS-1 Path 186 Row 26), marks the one-millionth MSS image acquired by the Landsat satellites. The image covers a 115×115-mile (185×185-km) area of the steppe (vast treeless plain) [...]

UNC paleontologists in the field
Oct 22, 2014Dinosaur GPS

Dr. Robert Anemone is the head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. But he works out of a pretty standard office. The administrative assistant greets you in the outer office before gesturing toward [...]

algae collection photo
Oct 21, 2014Bringing Climate Change Tools to Lower Mekong Region

NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a five-year project that will promote the use of satellite imagery to help Asia’s Lower Mekong region better predict and cope with floods and other natural disasters and [...]

saturation event
Oct 14, 2014Keeping Cal

The Landsat calibration team published a number of papers in the SPIE Conference Volume 9218: Earth Observing Systems XIX. Our calibration team (or cal team) is a group of scientists and engineers who work together to ensure the scientific [...]

L8 pixel size comparison
Oct 8, 2014Know your Landsat: Understanding and Accessing Landsat Data

Interested in Landsat data discovery and access? Landsat satellites have been observing Earth's land surfaces consistently for over 40 years, providing the longest continuous space-based record of Earth’s land in existence. All Landsat data [...]

Ceccato in Tanzania
Oct 1, 2014Field Notes: Climate, Health and the Maasai

Earlier this year, I attended a workshop in Arusha, Tanzania to train research scientists from South Africa, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania on how to use products derived from NASA satellites to monitor climate and [...]

Phytoplankton bloom of the coast of Alaska
Sep 29, 2014‘Climate Dance’ of Plankton

The greens and blues of the ocean color from NASA satellite data have provided new insights into how climate and ecosystem processes affect the growth cycles of phytoplankton—microscopic aquatic plants important for fish populations and Earth’s [...]

abandoned farm in Montana
Sep 26, 2014Modeling a Changing American Landscape

Land change is a signature activity of human civilization. Since the dawn of history, people have purposefully converted natural landscapes to human-dominated areas. Typical motivations for land change are cultivation (e.g. slash-and-burn [...]

20 Million and Counting
Sep 19, 201420 Million and Counting

The USGS Landsat project reported on twitter today that Landsat data downloads have hit the 20 million marker this week.

Mirror set-up
Sep 4, 2014A Big Eye in the Mojave Desert

In 1980, artist Tom Van Sant created the world’s largest manmade image with the help of Landsat 3.

Landsat coverage density
Sep 3, 2014A Call for Open Access Earth Observations

This month in Nature, an emphatic plea to make more Earth satellite imagery free was made by Michael Wulder, a senior research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service and Landsat Science Team member; along with Nicholas Coops, a remote [...]

Ivanpah Valley
Aug 28, 2014Sun Seekers Unite in Ivanpah Playa

On public land in the Ivanpah Valley near the California/Nevada border, the world’s largest concentrated solar thermal plant sprawls across the desert landscape. Just on the other side of Interstate 15 (the long straight diagonal line) is the [...]

Landsat 2014 Agency Awardees
Aug 26, 2014Landsat 8 Workforce Garners 2014 Agency Awards

Much like a symphony, where music is best created when each orchestra member flawlessly executes his or her part, building and launching a scientific satellite takes the expertise, talent, and dedication of a large workforce working to the [...]

Taking Landsat 8 to the Beach
Aug 22, 2014Taking Landsat 8 to the Beach

Some things go perfectly with a summer trip to the coast: sunscreen, mystery novels, cold beverages, and sand castles. Other things—like algae blooms or polluted runoff—are a lot less appealing. The newest generation of Landsat satellite is [...]

The Great Salt Lake shrank between 1985 and 2010
Aug 21, 2014Landsat and Water: Using Space to Advance Resource Solutions

A recent White House-led assessment found that Landsat is among the Nation’s most critical Earth observing systems, second only to GPS and weather. A new USGS study, Landsat and Water — Case Studies of the Uses and Benefits of Landsat Imagery in [...]

cattle grazing
Aug 20, 2014Monitoring Natural Resources on Native American Reservations

During a visit with Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribe leaders of Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation today, Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell issued a Secretarial order reaffirming the land trust responsibilities of the [...]