“During the decade following 1969, a singular development catapulted computer mapping: the launch of Landsat by NASA and the U.S. Department of the Interior in July 1972.”

“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.”

“We knew that ice had been retreating from this region recently but now, thanks to a wealth of freely available satellite data, we know this has been occurring pervasively along the coastline for almost half a century.”

“The Landsat program has given each and every one of us in every part of the world a thoroughly objective, continuous look at ourselves in the mirror since 1972.”

“[T]he case for open data is more than proven by Landsat and Copernicus. Many innovative applications using these datasets are the dividends that benefit the taxpayer.”

“With applied conservation programs, we’re using that [Landsat] imagery to say here are the areas that we can prioritize for conservation management, and here are areas that maybe we can let go. It’s a very powerful tool for getting conservation to happen.”

“We hope to accelerate innovation in climate research, humanitarian relief, and disaster preparedness efforts around the world by making Landsat data readily available near our flexible computing resources.”

“We are looking forward to new exciting data to complement Landsat observations and to collaborative research—especially because ESA followed USGS in its open data policy.”

“We need to drive towards building sustainable cities and human settlements, and this depends on how well we measure these areas and how well we can predict the growth in all these cities in the future. I believe Earth observation and geospatial technologies give us the tools needed in order for us to grow in this direction.”

“The fact that USGS and NASA makes this archive freely available, seems to me to be an inestimable service to the world, and the research community in particular.”

“Landsat 8 can collect more than 700 images per day—14 times as much as in the 1980s.”

“An engineering degree opens many doors. It has served me well.”

“Assessing land cover change, especially the dynamics of smaller water bodies, requires spatial resolution and temporal frequency that are currently only available from the Landsat program. The continuation of the Landsat program will increase the data quantity available for analysis.”

“Satellite imagery can be used retrospectively, meaning that the data collected by satellites today will probably help solve issues we are not currently even aware of—an advantage which is invaluable.”

“I don’t think people appreciate just how revolutionary it was when the Landsat archive became available for free and really empowered researchers and advocates to have access to that data at an affordable price to be able to do the kind of mapping that’s now been done, making visible what was previously invisible…”

“Another landmark program within USGS is called Landsat… USGS made a decision…to be able to open up that data, make it free, and the scientific discoveries, the articles, the access, the utility of that data just went absolutely through the roof. So it’s been a really wonderful story about how opening up scientific data allows more discovery, gets people more excited… We really do try to put our data out there in a way that it is usable by the most amount of people as possible.”

“It is a game changer for people who want to know the impact of a management action on particular piece of land, or how a dam affected the downstream area.”

“Because Landsat’s been operating for so long—thermal imaging has been enabled since the 1980s—we can study how patterns in water use have changed over the landscape over long periods of time as the climate has changed and as land use patterns have changed. So Landsat has been really a critical sensor for our work.”

“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.”

“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.”

“[Landsat] became freely available in 2008 and I think that that completely changed how we are able to use this type of data for decision making.”

“Without Landsat, we’d still be in the Dark Ages of tracking global forest carbon using spreadsheet models.”

“The success of a mission, and the societal benefits it creates, relies on many factors, including design, manufacture, launch, and operation of the sensor. However, it also includes data acquisition, accessibility, availability, and continuity, all of which are embodied by the Landsat program.”

Landsat 9 bw
Landsat 9 bw
Landsat 9 bw

The NASA/USGS Landsat Program provides the longest continuous space-based record of Earth’s land in existence. Landsat data give us information essential for making informed decisions about Earth’s resources and environment.