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

Landsat cumulative acquisitions
Landsat: the Cornerstone of Global Land Imaging
Evolving technology, free data and robust calibration have helped make Landsat the cornerstone of global
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Camp Fire smoke

The Synoptic View of California’s Camp Fire: A Scorching Reality of Today’s Fires

Sprawling urban fires that once plagued civilization were thought to be a thing the past—the Camp Fire let us know they are back.[]
animation of river meandering

Sharp Bends Make Rivers Meander, As Landsat Attests

Turns out, the rate of river migration is directly linked to how sharp its bends are.[]
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

“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.”

“The Landsat data record has been key to the Intertidal Extents Model methodology. Having such an extensive and dense time series of data has enabled us to partition the data into discrete tidal stages, and still be able to deal with issues such as cloud and cloud shadow—that is particularly crucial when dealing with the different conditions we encounter across the continent.”

“Because of Landsat’s global purview and long history, it has become a reference point for all Earth observation work and is considered the gold standard of natural resource satellite imagery.”

“Landsat’s work is epic in scale. In 43 years, it has amassed over a petabyte of data, with over 4 million scenes and counting.”

“The USGS’ incredible gift of open-source [Landsat] imagery and this kind of tool are truly advancing what non-scientists can expect when it comes to views of their planet. Never before have regular people had such ready access to geographic data at this depth and quality.”

“With 32 years’ worth of data — and ongoing data collection — the Landsat data record (satellites 5, 7 and 8) captures the decadal and interannual variability in forest losses and gains needed to drive global carbon cycle models.”

“The long time span covered by the Landsat scenes allows us to determine long-term flow velocity trends. The high temporal resolution lets us analyze seasonal flow velocity variations of numerous outlet glaciers…The monitoring system provides a powerful tool to examine the flow velocity pattern throughout time and space, and we have detected an acceleration pattern for a number of outlet glaciers.”

“You can acquire data until the cows come home. But if the data isn’t available, you can only go so far. If people can’t rely on data availability and continuity, they won’t build a system to use it. And then the whole puzzle falls apart.”

“Sterling service of over four decades of Earth Observations. No ifs, no buts, just a long-term mission to aid science & society.”

“At Google, we use Landsat data on a daily basis.”

“What we’re able to do now is track the flow of the world’s ice from pole to pole and on every continent.”

“The growth of open satellite-image archives such as Landsat is leading to more sophisticated data products.”