August 2014

NASA's Distinguished Service Medal
Aug 14, 2014NASA’s Landsat 8 Project Scientist Awarded Agency’s Distinguished Service Medal

This afternoon, Dr. Jim Irons, the NASA Landsat 8 Project Scientist, was awarded NASA’s most prestigious honor—the Distinguished Service Medal—for his leadership and guidance on the Landsat program and Landsat 8 mission.

Lake Michigan phosphorus and turbidity predictions
Aug 7, 2014Landsat Aids Forest Service Research

Ensuring the health and sustainability of the nation’s forests requires scientifically credible and timely information about the extent, location, health, and ownership of these forests and the possible effects of global climate change. Forest [...]

Giant kelp
Jul 31, 2014Tracking Giant Kelp From Space

Citizen scientists worldwide are invited to take part in marine ecology research, and they won’t have to get their feet wet to do it. The Floating Forests project, an initiative spearheaded by scientists at UC Santa Barbara and UCLA, is calling [...]

Chart showing old-growth forest loss in Indonesia, 2000-2012
Jul 30, 2014A Closer Look at Old-Growth Forest Loss in Indonesia

A group of researchers from the University of Maryland, the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, and the World Resource Institute joined forces to remedy the lack of consensus about the amount of old-growth forest clearing occurring in Indonesia.

Aftermath of Hurricane Mitch
Jul 24, 2014Mapping Disaster: A Global Community Helps from Space

Year after year, somewhere on Earth, natural or manmade disasters cause loss of life and widespread destruction, frequently spawning refugee situations. Though the risk of a disaster is low in any one particular place, earthquakes, volcanoes, [...]

Russian Arctic Islands, Landsat Image
Jul 23, 2014Observing Earth Today and Tomorrow: A National Plan

Humans have been observing Earth for a very long time simply because the conditions of the Earth are basic to our survival and our prosperity. Even the most ancient written records are filled with accounts of great floods, famines, and [...]

Landsat-derived map of field use
Jul 23, 2014Landsat’s Role in Water Resource Management

Water availability and allocation are issues gaining a great deal of attention, particularly in arid climates. Increases in population growth and recent droughts bring urgency to measuring and monitoring water use in areas such as the western [...]

2011 Miss. River flood
Jul 22, 2014Landsat’s Global Perspective

On July 23rd, 1972, the first Landsat spacecraft launched into orbit. At the time, it was called “Earth Resources Technology Satellite,” or ERTS, and was the first satellite to use a scanning spectrophotometer. Previous satellites relied on film [...]

WELD 2010 global collection
Jul 18, 2014Web-Enabled Landsat Data (aka WELD) Going Global

The Web-Enabled Landsat Data (WELD) project has released prototype global data sets for climate year 2010. The data sets are available as both monthly and annual 30m products generated from Landsat 5 and 7 data.

Target Field, Minneapolis
Jul 16, 2014Picturing a Pixel

Landsat satellites collect data along a wide ground track that spans 185 kilometers (115 miles) but with a spatial resolution that allows them to see the human signature on the landscape. Each Landsat pixel covers a 30 by 30 meter area (98 by 98 [...]

Moon above Earth
Jul 11, 2014Landsat Looks to the Moon

Every full moon, Landsat 8 turns its back on Earth. As the satellite’s orbit takes it to the nighttime side of the planet, Landsat 8 pivots to point at the moon. It scans the distant lunar surface multiple times, then flips back around to [...]

Jul 8, 2014At the Beach with Landsat 8

Scientists with the Michigan Tech Research Institute are tracking the spread of Chladophora, a hair-fine algae that attaches to shallow water rocks, or the shells of dead invasive zebra and quagga mussels. Occasionally, due to storms in the [...]

Rebecca Moore
Jul 2, 2014Maps for Good: Saving Trees and Saving Lives with Petapixel-Scale Computing

Google has leveraged the massive amount of data collected about our planet from space over the last four-plus decades—Landsat being one of the key data sets. In this video, Google Earth Engine founder Rebecca Moore shares how Google Earth began [...]

USGS Landsat Water Report
Jul 1, 2014Landsat and Water—Case Studies of the Uses and Benefits of Landsat Imagery in Water Resources

The Landsat program has been collecting and archiving moderate resolution earth imagery since 1972. The number of Landsat users and uses has increased exponentially since the enactment of a free and open data policy in 2008, which made data [...]

Eastern U.S.
Jun 26, 2014Eastern U.S. a Carbon Sink from 2001-2005

The U.S. Geological Survey released a report this week assessing terrestrial and aquatic greenhouse gas fluxes for the Eastern U.S., specifically focusing on carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. An area of 3.05 million square kilometers [...]

SOM projection
Jun 26, 2014John Parr Snyder’s Space Oblique Mercator Projection

To continually map the Earth’s surface using Landsat data, an entirely new projection had to be created. This new projection was created by John Parr Snyder and is known as the Space Oblique Mercator (SOM) projection. It is considered, “one of [...]

Spectral band importance in societal benefit areas
Jun 19, 2014National Land Imaging Requirements Pilot Project: Summary of Moderate Resolution Imaging User Requirements

Under the National Land Imaging Requirements (NLIR) Project, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is developing a functional capability to obtain, characterize, manage, maintain and prioritize all Earth observing (EO) land remote sensing user [...]

Carolyn Merry
Jun 4, 2014Remembering Carolyn Merry

Carolyn Merry, a distinguished figure in the geospatial world who spent a year with the Landsat Project Science Office at Goddard Space Flight Center during the development of the Landsat 7 satellite in the 90’s, passed away yesterday.

Map of nations with land cover mapping satellites
May 30, 2014Insights Provided by New Compendium of Land Cover Mapping Satellites

A compendium of civilian satellites with the potential to image global land surfaces has been compiled by Alan Belward and Jon Skøien from the Land Resource Management Unit of the European Commission’s Institute for Environment and [...]

A Landsat 8 Yearbook: Earth Images for Everyone
May 29, 2014A Landsat 8 Yearbook: Earth Images for Everyone

Landsat 8 has been on the job for a year now — since May 30, 2013, when NASA transferred ownership and operation of the satellite to the U.S. Geological Survey.

aquaculture operation
May 28, 2014Losing Tidal Flats Around the Yellow Sea

Using Landsat time series data, a group of Australian and British ecologist have found that the Yellow Sea has lost 28% of its tidal flats in the last three decades.

May 28, 2014Glacier Monitoring in Nepal to Help Locals

A recently published report gives a comprehensive look at the glaciers of Nepal over the last three decades, at ten year increments (1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010). The information was derived from Landsat and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission [...]

Burned area in Denali National Park
May 27, 2014Landsat 8 Helps Map Fires during Long, Busy Alaska Fire Season

Lighting ignited the Castle Rocks fire in the deep backcountry of Denali National Park and Preserve in early July, 2013. Over the next two months, the Castle Rocks fire would fluctuate between periods of activity and inactivity depending on [...]

NLCD partner contributions
May 23, 2014A Look at National Land Cover Database 2011

This 40-minute video presentation by Dr. Collin Homer, from the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science Center (EROS), gives an overview of the latest version of the National Land Cover Database—NLCD 2011—its current status, future plans, [...]

LACIE logo
May 22, 2014Remembering Robert B. MacDonald

Earlier this year on Jan. 7, 2014, a giant in the world of Landsat applied science— Robert B. MacDonald—passed away. MacDonald was largely responsible for first envisioning and formulating how to use early Landsat data to estimate global crop [...]

Screen Capture from 1977 video
May 22, 20141977 Video: Landsat—Satellite for all Seasons

This 1977 NASA video series, “Landsat—Satellite for All Seasons,” provides examples of early Landsat applications.

Landsat 8 Daily Imaging Rate to Increase
May 21, 2014Landsat 8 Daily Imaging Rate to Increase

During the 2014 Northern Hemisphere growing season the daily imaging rate will be gradually increased to optimize Landsat 8’s science data collection.

Landsat Reserchers, 1973
May 8, 2014Landsat Video From the Archives

The Landsat program is the longest continuous global record of Earth observations from space—ever. On July 23, 1972 NASA launched the first satellite in this program, then known as ERTS, the Earth Resources Technology Satellite and later renamed [...]

Tad Pfeffer
May 7, 2014Nearly 200,000 Glaciers Mapped for Better Sea Level Rise Estimates

An international team led by glaciologists from the University of Colorado Boulder and Trent University in Ontario, Canada has completed the first mapping of virtually all of the world’s glaciers—including their locations and sizes—allowing for [...]

MSS image of Half Dome, May 1972
May 1, 20141972 MSS Image of Half Dome

In May of 1972, two months before the launch of Landsat 1, engineers from Hughes Aircraft Company took their engineering model of the Multispectal Scanning System (MSS) out to Yosemite National Park, set it up on Glacier Point, and took this [...]

Mike at Landsat
Apr 30, 2014Spanning the Generations to Bring You the Wide World of Global Science

Two Washington D.C.-based events this month helped introduce Landsat to the public. On April 21 and 22, at an Earth Day celebration in D.C.’s Union Station, visitors explored changes to Earth’s landscapes over time. Using cubes displaying four [...]

girl in a park
Apr 23, 2014Research Shows Green Space Keeps You From Feeling Blue

If you start feeling better as spring begins pushing up its tender shoots, you might be living proof of a trend discovered in data from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin: The more green space in the neighborhood, the happier people reported [...]

Bahrain built-up areas 2013
Apr 22, 2014Looking at Urban Expansion in Bahrain

Satellite images since 1987 show substantial environmental change on the island nation of Bahrain, including shifting vegetation patterns and more than a doubling in the extent of urbanization, according to a new analysis by the Geospatial [...]

EP near Modest, Calif.
Apr 21, 2014Environmental Watch with Landsat Satellites

Landsat satellites have monitored Earth’s environment for more than four decades, providing detailed imagery of some of our planet’s most precious ecosystems such as forests, coastlines, glaciers, volcanoes and oceans. Scientists, researchers, [...]

Missouri River flooding
Apr 15, 2014Space Veteran Landsat 7 Marks 15 Years of Observing Earth

Launched on April 15, 1999, the Landsat 7 satellite has now been observing Earth from outer space for 15 years. The Landsat program is a decades-long NASA and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) partnership that has provided a continuous, unbiased [...]

A Triptych of Urban Growth, NLCD 2001-2011
Apr 7, 2014Nation’s Authoritative Land Cover Map New and Improved

Just released, the latest edition of the nation’s most comprehensive look at land-surface conditions from coast to coast shows the extent of land cover types from forests to urban areas. The National Land Cover Database (NLCD 2011) is made [...]

Earth Observing satellite constellation
Apr 2, 2014Sustainable Land Imaging Architecture Study (Interim Status) Briefing Held

On April 1, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) hosted an event to present to the research and industrial community the interim results and assessments from NASA’s Sustainable Land Imaging (SLI) Architecture Study.

Susan Kohler
Apr 1, 2014Upcoming Landsat Activity for Educators

What happens to the Mallard Duck population when prairie potholes disappear?

A technician surveys the TIRS instrument and the calibration equipment
Mar 27, 2014Upcoming Sustainable Land Imaging Architecture Study Interim Status Briefing

On April 1, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will host an event to present to the research and industrial community the interim results and assessments from NASA’s Sustainable Land Imaging (SLI) Architecture Study.

R.H. Goddard
Mar 20, 2014Landsat 8 Sweeps the 2013 “Goddards”

People. It takes a lot of people to build, launch, and operate a satellite, especially a satellite that regularly returns accurate scientific data. On February 11, 2013, Landsat 8 was successfully launched into orbit. Many of the people who [...]

Landsat Cal/Val Team
Mar 13, 2014Landsat Cal/Val Team Receives 2013 Robert H. Goddard Award for Science

Landsat helps scientists comprehend what changes have occurred on Earth’s land surfaces. Since 1972, Landsat satellites have been amassing information about the land cover of our planet and land cover, as obscure as it may sound, is important [...]

Henry Wong
Mar 12, 2014Remembering Henry Wong

The venerable Landsat Program has relied on a cast of thousands to become the successful four decade-plus land observing satellite program that it is today. Sadly, one of those important cast members passed away last month.

Napa Valley Vineyard
Mar 11, 2014The Grapes of Landsat

California’s persistent drought is forcing grape growers to keep a more-attentive-than-normal eye on their vines, as water shortages and elevated temperatures alter this year’s growing season.

CLASlite team
Mar 7, 2014Carnegie Landsat Analysis System-lite (CLASlite) Classroom Launches in Spanish

On March 4, 2014, the CLASlite team at the Carnegie Institution for Science (Department of Global Ecology) launched the Spanish version of the Carnegie Landsat Analysis System-lite (or CLASlite) Classroom, hosted by Stanford University Online [...]

William Pecora
Mar 5, 2014Call for Nominations: 2014 William T. Pecora Award

The William T. Pecora Award is presented annually to individuals or groups that have made outstanding contributions toward understanding the Earth by means of remote sensing. Nominations are accepted for public and private sector individuals, [...]

Lunar image from OLI March
Feb 28, 2014Landsat 8 Images Earth’s Biggest Satellite—Check it Out

Landsat 8 was built to do something none of its predecessors had done before: look at the Moon. You may ask why an Earth-observing mission would want to image Earth’s natural orbiting celestial body. Well, it all goes back to getting good data [...]

Landsat 8 launch
Feb 27, 2014Celebrating Landsat 8’s First Year in Orbit

On Feb. 11, 2013, Landsat 8 launched into Earth orbit, riding on an Atlas V rocket. Weighing in at 6,133 pounds, Landsat 8 is the eigth satellite in the long-running Landsat program, jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

onion skin still
Feb 25, 2014The Landsat Onion Skin: Peeling Back Landsat’s Layers of Data

Landsat satellites circle the globe every 99 minutes, collecting data about the land surfaces passing underneath. After 16 days, the Landsat satellite has passed over every spot on the globe, and recorded data in 11 different wavelength regions. [...]

Landsat Orbital Swath
Feb 19, 2014Round She Goes: Landsat’s Orbital Swath

As a Landsat satellite flies over the surface of the Earth the instruments aboard the satellite are able to view a swath 185 kilometers wide and collect images along that swath as the satellite proceeds through its orbit. The spacecraft travels [...]

Landsat 8: Good Things, Getting Better
Feb 18, 2014Landsat 8: Good Things, Getting Better

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since the launch of Landsat 8. This first anniversary is going to be an exciting, upbeat celebration because the new satellite is meeting, if not exceeding, all expectations. “Landsat 8 is nearly perfect,” [...]