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 on would-be researchers to examine 30 years of satellite photographs of coastal kelp-dominated areas around the globe to help identify their various sizes and locations.

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.

Out-of-Band Spectral Response
Jul 24, 2014Out-of-Band Spectral Response

The band-average out-of-band spectral responses of the Operational Land Imager (OLI) are provided in this spreadsheet.

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, floods, fires, landslides, oil spills, and hurricanes—when considered together on a global scale—regularly menace people, property, and natural resources.

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 earthquakes. When to plant and when to harvest, how to use precious water resources most effectively, and ways to avoid natural disasters are all age-old challenges that have encouraged Earth observation from the beginning of civilization.

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 United States, where the majority of the water has already been allocated.

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 cameras (ejecting the exposed film to be caught by planes) or transmitted the signal from television cameras. The scanning sensor and its successor sensors on subsequent Landsat satellites revolutionized how we study our home planet.

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 feet), about the size of a baseball diamond. This still image shows the Landsat path over Minneapolis, the site of the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star game, and reveal the individual pixels.

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 continue its task of collecting land-cover information of the sunny side of Earth below. These monthly lunar scans are key to ensuring the land-imaging instrument aboard Landsat 8 is detecting light consistently. For a well-known and stable source of light, nothing on our planet beats the moon, which lacks an atmosphere and has an unchanging surface, barring the odd meteorite.

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 Great Lakes, the algae slough off the rocks, and cover the beach in a green decaying mess.

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 and some of the ways it can be used to make sense of decades and petabytes worth of data.

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 available free of charge to all users. Benefits from the information Landsat data provides vary from improving environmental quality to protecting public health and safety and informing decision makers such as consumers and producers, government officials and the public at large. Although some studies have been conducted, little is known about the total benefit provided by open access Landsat imagery.