Contact: Alisha Prather, House Science and Technology Committee News

Today U.S. Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, introduced a bipartisan House resolution to celebrate 35 years of space-based observations of the Earth by Landsat spacecraft – an accomplishment that has helped revolutionize our understanding of the Earth’s land surface as well as enable a wide range of applications of Landsat data that have had significant societal benefits.

The Landsat program began with the launch of the first civilian Earth observation satellite on July 23, 1972 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The satellite, originally known as the Earth Resources Technology Satellite, was later renamed Landsat 1.

Since the first Landsat satellite, five follow-on spacecraft have been successfully launched to continue the space-based collection of land data. This series of Landsat satellites has established the longest, unbroken record of data on the global land surface.

Subcommittee Chairman Udall marked his introduction of the resolution with the following comments:

“The extensive three and a half-decade record of Landsat data has allowed scientists to study changes to the Earth’s land cover over time, including changes influenced by both human and natural causes. The applied uses of the data have served numerous purposes, including natural resource management, land use planning, cartography, and food security, to cite just a few examples.

The data collected through the Landsat program are being used by many federal agencies, academic institutions, state, county, and local governments, private industry, foreign governments, and non-governmental organizations. The broad application of these data for scientific and societal benefit testifies to the nation’s sound investment in a public good.

I think it is important for this body to express our collective thanks to the many scientists, engineers, and program personnel who have contributed to Landsat’s success over the past three and a half decades. As a result of their efforts, Landsat data has become an indispensable source for a host of beneficial applications that have improved our quality of life and enhanced our economic vitality. In addition, Landsat data are important scientifically. For example, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program has recognized the significance of the Landsat program, noting that ‘Landsat data are invaluable for studying the land surface and how it affects and is affected by climate.’

I urge my colleagues to join me in ensuring that the benefits that are possible from civil space-based land observations, as well as from commercially available remote sensing systems, continue to be realized. By supporting the research, technology, education, and tools required to improve Landsat data collection and applications, we can look forward to further scientific advancements and societal benefits from this critical national asset.”

+ Visit House Science and Technology Committee News website