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USGS - science for a changing world

Land Remote Sensing Program


The USGS is fostering the use of land remote sensing technology to meet local, national, and global challenges.

Winter Storm of 2016Liaodong Bay, ChinaLithium Mining in Salar de Atacama, ChileNew Year\Selenga River DeltaBrazilian Mining Disaster, Doce RiverMapping Permafrost in AlaskaBrazilian Mining Disaster2 Million Scenes from Landsat 7Death Valley 1,000-year Flood Event
Winter Storm of 2016
On January 22-24, 2016, a major winter storm dropped 2 or more feet of snow on much of the U.S. East Coast.
Liaodong Bay, China
These Landsat images show the land use changes of the Liaodong Bay area in northeastern China.
Lithium Mining in Salar de Atacama, Chile
The Salar de Atacama in Chile is a large, dry salt flat surrounded by mountain ranges and is one of the driest places on Earth.
New Year's Flooding in the Midwest
At the end of 2015, a series of storms dropped 6–10 inches of rain in the Midwest.
Selenga River Delta
The Selenga River begins in Mongolia and flows north into Russia where it empties into Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake.
Brazilian Mining Disaster, Doce River
The sediment from the Brazilian mining disaster has since moved downstream to the mouth of the Doce River.
Mapping Permafrost in Alaska
Near-surface permafrost in Alaska is in danger of degrading with projected warmer conditions.
Brazilian Mining Disaster
Two dams at an iron ore mine in southeastern Brazil broke on November 5, 2015, sending mine waste cascading into nearby valleys.
2 Million Scenes from Landsat 7
Landsat 7, which launched on April 15, 1999, has been continuing to acquire land images worldwide for 16 years.
Death Valley 1,000-year Flood Event
This October, a system of storms caused significant flooding in most of Death Valley National Park, California.
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Remote Sensing Highlights

Landsat 8 Thermal Data Update

Landsat 8 Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) data continue to be collected with the scene select mirror encoder electronics disabled (mode 0). While in this mode, the TIRS line of sight model (LOS) will be regularly updated and modifications are being made to automate revisions to the LOS in the Level-1 Product Generation System (LPGS).
Landsat 8 Operational Land Imagery (OLI) and TIRS data that have been collected through the 4th quarter of 2015 (October-December) will be reprocessed into nominal Level-1 products containing valid TIRS data, and will be available in February 2016.
TIRS data acquired during the 1st quarter of 2016 (January-March) will be reprocessed and made available in April. A strategy is being developed for generating near-real time products moving forward while operating in mode 0. More details will be posted on the Landsat Missions Web site as they become available.

A New Era of Space Collaboration between Australia and U.S.

On June 18, 2015 in Canberra, Australia, the U.S. Geological Survey and Geoscience Australia signed a comprehensive new partnership to maximize land remote sensing operations and data that can help to address issues of national and international significance.

USGS Ups Ease of Use for Landsat Data

The USGS has begun production of higher-level (more highly processed) Landsat data products to help advance land surface change studies. One such product is Landsat surface reflectance data. Surface reflectance data products approximate what a sensor held just above the Earth's surface would measure, if conditions were ideal. The precise removal of atmospheric artifacts increases the consistency and comparability between images of the Earth's surface taken at different times of the year and different times of the day.

NASA,USGS Begin Work on Landsat 9

NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have started work on Landsat 9, planned to launch in 2023, which will provide mission-critical continuity in the Earth-observing program's record of land images.

2015 William T. Pecora Award: Nominations being accepted through June 15, 2015

The William T. Pecora Award is presented annually to individuals or groups that have made outstanding contributions toward understanding the Earth by means of remote sensing. Nominations for the 2015 award must be received by June 15, 2015.

Visit the Highlights Archive for information highlighted here in the past.

Featured Science

Multiple Satellite Eyes to Track Algal Threat to U.S. Freshwater
Algal Blooms

Landsat 8 is demonstrating promising new capabilities for water quality assessment. Satellite-based instruments allow for more frequent observations over broader areas than physical water sampling. Four federal agencies—NASA, NOAA, EPA, and USGS—are joining forces to develop an early warning system for toxic and nuisance algal blooms. Through this project, satellite data on harmful algal blooms will be converted to a format that stakeholders can use through mobile devices and web portals. This will improve detection of these blooms and help researchers better understand the conditions under which they occur.

Landsat Data aids in Study: U.S. Eastern Ecosystems Helps Counter Greenhouse Gas Emissions Contributing to Climate Change
Eastern Ecosystems Helps Counter Greenhouse Gas Emissions

USGS scientists used Landsat data to determine that forests, wetlands and farms in the eastern U.S. naturally store 300 million tons of carbon a year, which is nearly 15 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions EPA estimates the country emits each year or an amount that exceeds and offsets yearly U.S. car emissions. In conjunction with the national assessment, USGS released a new web tool, which allows users to see the land and water carbon storage and change in their ecosystems between 2005 and 2050 in the lower 48 states. Biological carbon storage - also known as carbon sequestration - is the process by which carbon dioxide (CO2) is removed from the atmosphere and stored as carbon in vegetation, soils and sediment. The USGS estimates the ability of different ecosystems to store carbon now and in the future, providing vital information for land-use and land-management decisions. Management of carbon stored in our ecosystems and agricultural areas is relevant both for mitigation of climate change and for adaptation to such changes.


Visit the Featured Science Archive for information highlighted here in the past.


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Page Last Modified: November 17, 2015