AAG logoSeveral NASA and USGS scientists gave Landsat presentations at the 2012 Association of American Geographers (AAG) annual meeting held in New York City February 24-28th.

The Landsat program was first highlighted at the meeting in a plenary session on “Landsat at 40—Prime Productive Years or Mid-Life Crisis?” given by Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science of the Department of Interior. Assistant Secretary Castle emphasized the importance of the 40-year Landsat record of Earth observations and then discussed prospects for the Landsat Program beyond the launch of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), also known as Landsat 8.

Jeffrey Masek from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) next presented a paper in a session on forest dynamics and disturbance, summarizing efforts to quantify forest disturbance rates in North America using time series of Landsat data, and comparing those results to other remote sensing-based and inventory-based approaches.

Bruce Cook, James Irons, and Phillip Dabney from NASA/GSFC and John Dwyer and Thomas Loveland from the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center next participated in a LDCM special session, “Countdown to Launch.” Cook’s presentation, “Landsat Science: 40 Years of Innovation and Opportunity,” described Landsat’s 40-year record of unparalleled Earth-observing data, allowing scientists to describe, monitor, and model the global environment during a period of dramatic change in population growth, land use, and climate. Cook also described how open access to Landsat data has ushered in a new era for scientists interested in high-resolution global datasets, spawning a new wave of algorithm development and operational applications.

Irons provided the scientific audience with a detailed description of the LDCM instruments, spacecraft, and ground system, and highlighting both improvements and continuity with preceding Landsat satellites.

Dabney described the new push broom sensors on LDCM, which posed new challenges and required incisive engineering. Comprehensive tests and calibrations suggest improved performance and vastly improved signal-to-noise compared to ETM+.

Dwyer elaborated on improvements that LDCM will bring to the number of scenes captured per data, and the ground data system that will provide data to scientists and operational programs in a rapid manner. Also described were a number of high-level data products (e.g., land cover, leaf area index) that are being planned for future release.

Loveland provided an update on the status of Landsats 5 and 7, and raised awareness for a “Landsat 9” that would follow LDCM and assure continuity into the future.

Further information:
AAG Annual meeting [external link] Anne Castle’s talk: “Landsat at 40: Prime Productive Years or Mid-Life Crisis?”
PDF format (8.6 Mb)
PowerPoint format (6.4 Mb)