Land Remote Sensing Program
The USGS is fostering the use of land remote sensing technology to meet local, national, and global challenges.
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.
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.
The #2 seed in NASA's Tournament Earth 2015 competition took the Landsat 8 image of the colorful faults of Xinjiang, China to the championship. Coinciding with college basketball's "March Madness" tournament, NASA's online voting used the same bracket format to determine a favorite image. The winning image, selected by readers of the web site, was a first for a Landsat image.
The sensors on Landsat 8-the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS)-are a new kind of technology for the Landsat series. These pushbroom scanners are a change from their whiskbroom predecessors. This means their individual characteristics and calibrations can produce differences in data characteristics and quality. A special issue of the journal Remote Sensing aims to provide a good understanding of the radiometric and geometric properties of the Landsat 8 instruments and their data. Two calibration scientists from the USGS EROS Center were guest editors for the issue, in which 18 open access papers cover the design, calibration, and spectral and radiometric characterization of the OLI and TIRS.
The Department of the Interior's U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA presented the 2014 William T. Pecora Award for achievement in Earth remote sensing to Christopher O. Justice, professor and chair of geographical sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park, was honored for advancing the understanding of the Earth by means of remote sensing. The government and industry team that built and now operates Landsat 8, the latest in the Landsat series of satellites, was also acknowledged for their contributions to study of Earth's land surface and coastal regions.
Visit the Highlights Archive for information highlighted here in the past.
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 agenciesâ€”NASA, NOAA, EPA, and USGSâ€”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.
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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