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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.

Brazilian Mining Disaster2 Million Scenes from Landsat 7Death Valley 1,000-year Flood EventVredefort Impact Structure, South AfricaThe Island Nation of NauruOld Name, New Elevation for North America’s Highest PeakBurned Area Analysis for the Soda Fire, IdahoExpansion of the Suez Canal, EgyptIsland-Building in the South PacificLaguna Pastos Grandes, Bolivia
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.
Vredefort Impact Structure, South Africa
The Vredefort Impact Structure is the oldest and largest known impact crater on Earth.
The Island Nation of Nauru
Nauru is the world's smallest island country, with only 21 square kilometers (8 square miles) of land area. Since the early 1900s, the tiny island has been mined for its rich phosphate reserves.
Old Name, New Elevation for North America’s Highest Peak
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell recently announced that the highest point in North America, formerly known as Mount McKinley, will be designated by the name Denali in all federal records. Later, U.S. Geological Survey acting Director Suzette Kimball announced that the Denali summit has a new, official elevation of 20,310 feet.
Burned Area Analysis for the Soda Fire, Idaho
On August 10, 2015, the Soda Fire began burning about 8 miles northeast of Jordan Valley, OR. It spread rapidly because of high winds, parched fuels, triple digit heat, and low humidity. Over 283,000 acres had burned by August 20.
Expansion of the Suez Canal, Egypt
The Suez Canal is a man-made waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. It is one of the world's most important waterways for trade, but the main channel was previously too narrow to allow ships to travel and pass in opposite directions.
Island-Building in the South Pacific
An undersea volcano between the two small islands of Hunga Tonga (right) and Hunga Ha'apai (left) began erupting in early December 2014. After about a month of eruptive activity, a new landmass had formed, nearly joining the two islands.
Laguna Pastos Grandes, Bolivia
Laguna Pastos Grandes is a shallow salt lake located in Bolivia’s Pastos Grandes volcanic caldera.
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Remote Sensing Highlights

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.

Landsat Seen as Stunning Return on Public Investment

Taking a hard look at the value of Landsat to the U.S. economy was the goal of the Landsat Advisory Group of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee. The team of commercial, state/local government, and non-profit geospatial information experts updated a critical review of the value of Landsat information that was recently released to the public. Their conclusion states the economic value of just one year of Landsat data far exceeds the multi-year total cost of building, launching, and managing the satellites and sensors. The impressive return emphasizes Landsat's role as a crucial national asset comparable to the satellite-based GPS system and National Weather Service satellites. Empowered by free access to the Landsat data archive since 2008, researchers are examining our planet in much greater detail.

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: October 06, 2015