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

NPS Kenai Fjords map
National Park Service Cartographer Tom Patterson Talks Landsat
National Park Service cartographer Tom Patterson’s mapmaking process often
+ details
erosion along Alaska's coastline

New Study Provides the First Comprehensive, Long-term Look at Alaska’s Changing Ecosystems

This is the first study to document more than three decades of land and water changes across Alaska.[]
dead red gum trees

Rain Showers, Flowers, and Floods—Understanding How Vegetation Responds to Flooding and Drought in Australia’s Breadbasket

Using a quarter century of Landsat data, geospatial researchers have mapped and modeled how vegetation responds to water availability across the []
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

“Work has begun on the next mission, Landsat 9, with launch scheduled for late 2020. Plans for the next generation of Landsat are also underway, with a series of studies leading to a decision on the Landsat 10 and beyond architecture in 2018.”

“We believe this type of continuous mapping of forest metrics at expansive scales would not have been possible without the excellent radiometric characteristics of Landsat 8, particularly the high level of quantization and the outstanding signal-to-noise ratio, which enables fine distinctions that were not previously possible.”

“The USGS’s Landsat mission has an incredible 40-year record of the planet’s changing landscape, with virtually every spot imaged every eight days. It’s an incredible scientific asset.”

“Landsat has given us a critical perspective on our planet over the long term and will continue to help us understand the big picture of Earth and its changes from space. With this view we are better prepared to take action on the ground and be better stewards of our home.”

“In the world of water resource management, Landsat has played a key role in providing objective and continuous data for the United States, particularly in the arid west. Water-related benefits of Landsat imagery are also reaped far beyond the United States’ borders in countries such as Chile, Australia, Morocco, Sudan, and Venezuela, which are using Landsat data to make informed decisions regarding natural resource allocation and use.”

“We have a globally consistent, locally relevant map product that can be used in a variety of applications: estimating emissions from deforestation, modeling biodiversity, assessing protected areas, and studying forest and human health. We plan to move our record forward and backward where Landsat has a sufficiently rich archive of data.”

“Landsat sees the earth in a unique way. It takes images of every location in the world to reveal earth’s secrets, from volcanic activity to urban sprawl.”

“This is an example of something government can do well: investing in infrastructure that broadly benefits society, and provides a stable platform for the development of businesses and economic activity. Landsat is the data equivalent of the interstate highway system, a public good that has spawned a thriving for-profit remote sensing industry in the US and beyond.”

“While Landsat instruments are fundamentally just electro-optical transducers that ingest photons and eject a digital bit stream, this transduction relies upon the state of the art in numerous technologies including optics, precision electromechanics, detectors, advanced materials, cryogenics, and signal processing.”

“Landsat is providing better [surface] water data—not just at the state level or nationally, but globally”

“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.”