The Landsat Program

This joint NASA/USGS program provides the longest continuous space-based record of Earth’s land in existence. Every day, Landsat satellites provide essential information to help land managers and policy makers make wise decisions about our resources and our environment. + Landsat Case Studies ebook

L9 integration
Landsat 9: The Pieces Come Together
Landsat 9’s two science instruments are now attached to the spacecraft.
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the view towards Chola Glacier, beneath Cholatse peak

Landsat Reveals Expanding Plant Life in the Everest Region

Plant life is expanding in the area around Mount Everest, and across the Himalayan region, new research shows.[]
Bull Run reservoir

Fire & Water: How Wildfires Can Impact Drinking Water

Fires in forested watersheds that support drinking water supplies can introduce contaminants that overwhelm current treatment capabilities. Earth []
Lake Havasu 1911 map


Journey with us into the cartographic past. Latest look: Creating an Oasis in the Desert: Lake Havasu City, Arizona, 1911 []

Landsat 8 sketch

“It’s a fundamental resource for the Australian community. It’s used at local government level, state government level, and national levels. It’s our most important Earth-observing satellite with out a question in my mind.”

“We basically built … Tinder for Landsat maps: Swipe right if it’s good, swipe left if it’s bad.”

“We have mapped then analyzed the area of forest converted each year to industrial oil palm and pulpwood plantations from 2001 to 2016, looking mainly at land under company management – that is, concessions. We use LANDSAT satellite imagery to monitor the annual expansion of plantations. We combine this information with annual maps of forest loss also derived using LANDSAT satellites by Matthew Hansen’s research group at the University of Maryland. The Han…

“Having Landsat 9 in progress, and a long-term commitment to sustainable land imaging, is great for natural resource science and for data-driven industries such as precision agriculture and insurance.”

“Earth Observation data acquired by the Landsat missions are of immense value to the global community and constitute the world’s longest continuous civilian Earth Observation program.”

“Even though I have a book coming out about the Moon Landing, I’ll say it: Landsat is likely the greatest, most impactful, yet under-appreciated, accomplishment of the entire space age.”

“Since the first in the line of Landsat craft entered orbit in 1972, this satellite program has proven valuable to the economy of the United States.”

“One of the things we like about the [Landsat] satellite is that as it orbits the Earth it is calibrated consistently so we have a globally constant picture that we can make comparisons—apples to apples—of what’s happening. We can drill down to countries, even parks, and say this is what is happening at a local scale. That is another really powerful part of this big data story.”

“Landsat 8, which launched into orbit in 2013, is the newest sensor in the USGS/NASA Landsat Program — superior to its predecessors in many ways. Landsat 8 captures images with greater detail, truer colors, and at an unprecedented frequency — capturing twice as many images as Landsat 7 does every day.”

“From a valuation standpoint, Landsat is an extremely valuable public good just in its direct use—let alone the economic value of all the indirect uses built on the direct data.”

“With Landsat we can see temperature of individual fields and how it varies from field-to-field. The temperature of the land surface gives us a good indication of how rapidly water is evaporating off that surface. And this is really important for knowing how healthy the crops are and also for supplying information for irrigators: how much water was used last week and how much do they need to replenish in the current week to keep the crops healthy.”

“By analyzing velocity estimates extracted from 30 years of Landsat data, this study highlights the complex, and sometimes counterintuitive, interplay between surface meltwater and ice motion.”