Land Remote Sensing Program
The USGS is fostering the use of land remote sensing technology to meet local, national, and global challenges.
The Department of the Interior's U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA presented the 2013 William T. Pecora Award for achievement in Earth remote sensing to Dudley B. Chelton, distinguished professor of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, Corvallis. Chelton was recognized for his contributions to ocean remote-sensing science, education, and applications.
This effort involves the development of a U.S. national consortium to expand the science of remote sensing through education, outreach and research / applications development in areas such as environmental monitoring to include the effects of climate variability on water availability (or lack thereof) and phenology; public health related issues to include identification of potential indicators relating to vector-borne diseases; natural resource management, land cover mapping, land use change and disaster analysis.
On June 5, 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey Flight Operations Team transmitted the last command to the Landsat 5 satellite, effectively terminating the mission 29 years, 3 months and 4 days after its launch by NASA from Vandenberg Air Force Base on March 1, 1984. The Landsat program is a joint effort between USGS and NASA.
Landsat 8, the latest in the Landsat series of Earth observation satellites, officially began its mission on May 30 to extend an unparalleled four-decade record of Earth's land surface as seen from space. The Landsat program is a joint effort between the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA. NASA launched the Landsat Data Continuity Mission satellite on February 11. Since then, NASA mission engineers and scientists, with USGS collaboration, have been putting the satellite through its paces - steering it into its orbit, focusing the instruments, calibrating the detectors, and collecting test images. Now fully mission-certified, the satellite will be transferred to USGS operational control and renamed Landsat 8.
The Landsat Data Continuity Mission satellite, launched February 11, 2013, is now almost fully checked out. On May 29-30, NASA and the USGS will conduct a Post Launch Assessment Review and a Mission Transition Review at the USGS Climate and Land Use Change Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, SD. Immediately following the reviews, NASA will transfer the satellite to the USGS, when it will officially become Landsat 8, with free data distribution slated to begin on May 31.
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A new study based on Landsat Earth-observing satellite data comprehensively describes changes in the world's forests from the beginning of this century. Published in Science today, the study found that from 2000 to 2012 global forests experienced a loss of 888,000 square miles (2.3 million square kilometers), roughly the land area of the U.S. states east of the Mississippi River. During the study period, global forests also gained an area of 309,000 square miles (800,000 square kilometers), approximately the combined land area of Texas and Louisiana.
"Tracking changes in the world's forests is critical because forests have direct impacts on local and national economies, on climate and local weather, and on wildlife and clean water," said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science. "This fresh view of recent changes in the world's forests is thorough, objective, visually compelling, and vitally important."
The Department of the Interior has released its remote sensing activities report for Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11). This report from the DOI Remote Sensing Working Group (DOIRSWG) provides a sampling of the many FY11 applications of remote sensing across the Department. Remotely sensed data, information, and resources contribute significantly to mission-critical work across the DOI. Spanning data sources from aerial photography, to moderate resolution satellite data, to highly specialized imaging sensors and platforms, DOI personnel use remotely sensing capabilities to evaluate and monitor land-surface conditions over the vast areas for which DOI has responsibility.
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