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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.

Okefenokee Fire Continues to BurnLandsat Views Massive Solar Energy FarmsKaskawulsh Glacier, CanadaThe Wildflower Superbloom in California from Landsat\Fires Burn Farms and Ranches in Oklahoma and KansasLandsat Monitors Mining at Center of North America Near Town of CenterCambodia Experiences Rapid Rate of Forest LossLandsat Detects Eruptions at Ethiopian VolcanoWildfires Ravage Central, South-Central ChileJanuary Rain, Snow Refills California Reservoirs
Okefenokee Fire Continues to Burn
A wildfire ignited by lightning in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge on April 6, 2017, is persisting into May.
Landsat Views Massive Solar Energy Farms
Solar energy is booming worldwide, and these Landsat 8 images show three large solar energy farms.
Kaskawulsh Glacier, Canada
Like most glaciers worldwide, Kaskawulsh Glacier in the Kluane National Park and Reserve of southwestern Yukon Territory, Canada, has retreated over the past several decades.
The Wildflower Superbloom in California from Landsat's Perspective
After 5 years of drought, California finally got relief during the winter of 2016–2017 with much needed precipitation.
Fires Burn Farms and Ranches in Oklahoma and Kansas
Massive wildfires scorched nearly 780,000 acres of farm and ranch land in Oklahoma and Kansas in March 2017.
Landsat Monitors Mining at Center of North America Near Town of Center
Landsat satellites help verify a central tenet of industrial growth across the planet—the changing use of land to increase its economic output—and Center, North Dakota, is no exception.
Cambodia Experiences Rapid Rate of Forest Loss
When it comes to forest loss on a global scale, Cambodia is notable for how rapidly its forests are being cleared.
Landsat Detects Eruptions at Ethiopian Volcano
Landsat 8's shortwave infrared (SWIR) band is useful in viewing recent eruptions at Erta Ale volcano in northern Ethiopia near the Eritrea border.
Wildfires Ravage Central, South-Central Chile
Wildfires fueled by dry conditions, high temperatures, and strong winds are scorching central Chile at a level Chilean officials say they haven’t seen in decades.
January Rain, Snow Refills California Reservoirs
A decade of drought in California has eased after the first month of 2017 thanks to heavy rains and snow, a fact that Landsat images are helping to confirm.
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Remote Sensing Highlights

Pecora 20 Call for Abstracts and Pecora Award Nominations Deadlines Extended

The 20th William T. Pecora Memorial Remote Sensing Symposium will be held November 14-16, 2017, in Sioux Falls, SD. The theme of Pecora 20 is "Observing a Changing Earth: Science for Decisions…Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection." With an emphasis on recent developments in remote sensing, the symposium program will focus on applications of satellite and other Earth observations to monitor, assess, and perform projections of future land and water resources, as well as big data and other analytical technologies to improve decision making using satellite data. The deadline to submit abstracts has been extended to July 1, 2017.

The William T. Pecora Award is presented annually to recognize outstanding contributions by individuals or groups toward understanding the Earth by means of remote sensing. Any individual or group (domestic or international) working in the field of remote sensing of the Earth is eligible to receive the William T. Pecora Award. This year’s awards will be presented at the 20th William T. Pecora Memorial Remote Sensing Symposium mentioned above. The 2017 Pecora Award nominations submission date has been extended to June 15, 2017.

Pecora 20: Call for Abstracts and Award Nominations

Pecora 20The 20th William T. Pecora Memorial Remote Sensing Symposium will be held November 14-16, 2017, in Sioux Falls, SD. With an emphasis on recent developments in remote sensing, the theme of Pecora 20 is “Observing a Changing Earth: Science for Decisions…Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection.” The symposium will offer a program focused on applications of satellite and other Earth observations to monitor, assess, and perform projections of future land and water resources, as well as big data and other analytical technologies to improve decision making using satellite data. Submit abstracts and Pecora Award nominations through June 1, 2017.

2017 William T. Pecora Award: Nominations being accepted through June 1, 2017

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. The Department of the Interior (DOI) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) jointly sponsor the award. The award was established in 1974 to honor the memory of Dr. William T. Pecora, former Director of the U.S. Geological Survey and Under Secretary, Department of the Interior. Dr. Pecora was a motivating force behind the establishment of a program for civil remote sensing of the Earth from space. His early vision and support helped establish what we know today as the Landsat satellite program. The Award Committee must receive nominations for the 2017 award by June 1, 2017. Instructions for preparing a nomination and other information about the award can be found on the Pecora Award web site.

2016 William T. Pecora Award Recognizes Excellence in Earth Observation

Dr. Curtis E. Woodcock, individual award, and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), group award, were announced as the recipients of the award.

2016 William T. Pecora Award: Nominations being accepted through June 10, 2016

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 2016 award must be received by June 10, 2016.

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.

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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