report cover

Cover of the 2013 National Research Council report on Landsat and Beyond

Oct 25, 2018 • NASA and USGS are seeking information on system concepts and innovative approaches for its second Sustainable Land Imaging Architecture Study, AST 2019. This study encompasses space architectures that achieve Landsat-compatible systematic, continuous, global measurements of the Earth’s land surface for the 15-year period beginning in 2026. Commercial and international provision of Earth observation data, as well as other opportunities for public, private partnerships will be explored. NASA and USGS are also seeking innovative approaches for future ground systems, including data archive, production, and distribution.

For more details, please see the Request for Information (RFI) posted on FedBizOps:
https://www.fbo.gov/
keyword: NASA-SLI-Beyond-L9.
 
 

Background
For the past 46 years, Landsat satellites and associated U.S. Government ground processing, distribution, and archiving systems have acquired and made available global, moderate-resolution (5-120 meter) multispectral measurements of land and coastal regions, providing humankind’s longest record of our planet from space. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) of the Department of the Interior (DOI) fully recognize that this information is a national asset, providing an important and unique capability that benefits a broad community, including Federal, state, and local governments; global change science, academia, and the private sector. Landsat data provide a consistent, well calibrated, and reliable foundation for research on land use change, forest health, and carbon inventories, and changes to our environment, climate, and natural resources. Additionally, the free and open availability of the Landsat data enables the measurements to be used routinely by decision makers both inside and outside the Government, for a wide range of natural resource issues, including water resource management, wildfire response, agricultural productivity, rangeland management, and understanding impacts of climate variability on ecosystems.

The USGS currently operates two Government-owned spacecraft, Landsat 7 and 8, both developed by NASA for USGS. Each spacecraft is in a Sun synchronous, 705 km orbit, with an equatorial crossing time of 10:00 a.m. + or – 15 minutes, and (nadir) revisit of 16 days. Landsat 7 was launched in April 1999. It has been flying with degraded Enhanced Thermal Mapper Plus performance since May 2003 and is expected to be decommissioned following the launch of Landsat 9, but no later than July 2021. Landsat 8 was launched in February 2013 and has a mission design life of five years for both the spacecraft and the primary instrument, the Operational Land Imager (OLI). The Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) has a design life of three years. The Landsat 8 Observatory is carrying sufficient fuel for a mission duration of more than 10 years.

NASA and USGS are working together to continue the spaceborne global, systematic coverage of the Earth’s land surfaces through joint development of Landsat 9. Landsat 9 is a near copy of Landsat 8, with the exception that both OLI-2 and TIRS-2 instruments meet standards and requirements for Class B. The scheduled launch date is December 2020. Landsat 9 has a design life of 5 years and will contain at least 10 years of consumables.

Beginning in 2021, USGS will operate Landsat 8 and Landsat 9 from a Landsat Multi-Satellite Mission Operations Center (LMOC), scalable for additional fleet operations. The Landsat Ground Network (LGN) services S- and X-Band interface needs via five ground stations, including USGS Earth Science Resources Observations and Science (EROS) Center’s Landsat Ground Station (LGS) in Sioux Falls, SD; NOAA’s Gilmore Creek (GLC) station in Fairbanks, AK; the Norwegian Space Centre’s KSAT SGS station in Svalbard, Norway; Geoscience Australia’s ASN station in Alice Springs, Australia; and the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) NSN station in Neustrelitz, Germany.

The USGS EROS Center provides land remote sensing data to users engaged in managing and understanding the changing Earth. The USGS Landsat data holdings grow by approximately 800 TB per year, and each year over 100 million image products are distributed to users all over the globe.

 

Beyond Landsat 9

Recognizing the importance, demonstrated utility, and future potential value of multidecadal, systematic, continuous, global measurements of our planet’s terrestrial environment, the U.S. will continue implementation of a robust spaceborne, land imaging system to ensure that necessary data are collected, processed into useful and efficient information products, and are archived and broadly distributed for use by the wide range of interested communities. The U.S. Government also recognizes that the context of the US Land Imaging is evolving, given the capabilities of international systems (e.g. European Commission’s Sentinel-2) and the rapid development of commercial imaging systems. In implementing a US Sustainable Land Imaging (SLI) program, the U.S. Government will consider capabilities that are complementary to existing commercial and international observing systems; provide enhanced capabilities while maintaining continuity with the historic and current Landsat record; and may include opportunities for public-private partnerships.

The SLI’s major objectives include:
• Collecting and archiving moderate-resolution solar reflective and thermal infrared image data, affording substantially cloud-free coverage of the global landmass for a continuous period of no less than 15 years beginning in 2026;
• Ensuring that new data acquired, once integrated into the National Satellite Land Remote Sensing Data Archive (NSLRSDA), are sufficiently consistent with data from earlier Landsat missions in terms of calibration, coverage characteristics, spectral and spatial characteristics, output data quality and data availability, to enable the detection and quantitative characterization of changes on the global land surface over multidecadal periods;
• Free and Open access to a continuous data stream of moderate resolution data of the quality and frequency of acquisition consistent with the 46 plus years of Landsat observations, supporting development and dissemination of a wide range of data products on a nondiscriminatory basis and at no cost to the users.

In U.S. Government Fiscal Year 2019, the joint NASA/USGS SLI Program established a second SLI Architecture Study Team (AST 2019) to execute a study for the design and implementation approach of a spaceborne system to provide systematic, global, continuous Landsat-quality reflective and thermal infrared measurements for at least 15 years or more starting in 2026. An earlier AST, AST 2014, was initiated in 2013 to carry-out a similar study, which resulted in the development of the Landsat 9 mission to be launched in December 2020. As before, NASA and USGS will cooperate in the planning and other preparations for continuing the acquisition and distribution of moderate-resolution spectral data, as required, in the post-Landsat 9 era.