U.S. Senator John Thune had an amendment accepted today by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to the 2010 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Reauthorization Bill, which will provide for NASA’s continued coordination with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on Earth monitoring and other important science activities through the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) center.

“My amendment to the NASA Reauthorization Bill will establish a formal mechanism for continued collaboration between NASA and the USGS, and streamline the process of planning and constructing new satellites for the USGS Landsat program,” said Thune. “As older satellites are phased out, the USGS will have a greater continuity of mission as this amendment will move the Landsat program toward operational status, facilitating the planning and construction of future Landsat satellites.”

Since the early 1970s, NASA has coordinated with the USGS on the Landsat program—a series of Earth-observing satellite missions—through the EROS center. The EROS Data Center is located approximately 15 miles north of Sioux Falls, and provides hundreds of high-quality jobs to the region.

“EROS is ready to take on additional responsibility and leadership roles in Earth observation and terrestrial monitoring, and providing information and knowledge about global change in collaboration with NASA,” remarked Leslie Armstrong, Acting Director of EROS Data Center.

“The information obtained from the EROS Data Center is used in both the public and private sectors to tackle difficult challenges in our state and across the country including water resource management, which is important to our agricultural sector, and environmental disasters such as the current Gulf Coast oil spill,” said Thune. “Congress’ commitment to the Landsat program is important to the people of South Dakota and to the nation. My amendment puts our Congressional leaders on the record as supporting the continuation of this important program.”

John Thune Senate Website