October 2014


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 [...]

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 [...]

Cladophora
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 [...]