Organization: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Research Title: LANDSAT Program

Funding Level (millions of dollars):

FY94 74.1
FY95 77.4
FY96 78.8

Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Subcommittee (100%) Social Economic Sciences Research Subcommittee Task Group on Data and Information Management (
(b) Environmental Issue: Biological Diversity and Ecosystem (30%) Global change (70%)
(c) Research Activity: System structure and function: Observation (100%)

Organizational Component:
Science Division
Office of Mission to Planet Earth
NASA Headquarters
Washington, DC 20546

Point of Contact:
Anthony C. Janetos
Phone: 202-358-0272

Research Goals:
To assist a broad range of global change research activities by providing data suitable for long term studies leading to sustainable management of ecosystems (agriculture, forests, wetlands), understanding the natural and human forces affecting biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics, and monitoring natural disaster and their impacts.

Research Description:
The instruments on the Landsat series of satellites, the Multispectral Scanner System (MSS) and the Thematic Mapper (TM), have been collecting data longer than any other sensing devices designed to monitor earth resources. The spatial resolution and spectral sensitivity of the MSS and TM provide useful data on land processes and are ideal for extrapolating insights obtained from local process studies to regional and global scales. As such, Landsat data are used widely in natural science and social science research directed, generally, toward significant issues in global change research.

The Landsat Program is making data available to the global change community by:

improving accessibility of data in the Landsat archive for current and retrospective studies;

augmenting the existing archive by purchasing data for specific national and international global change research projects such as the IGBP and research directed toward specific areas or issues such as tropical forest deforestation, desertification, and long term ecological research;

assuring the continuity of Landsat and/or Landsat-like data by the procurement, operation, and management of a new Landsat Satellite, Landsat 7; and by participating in the development of advanced land remote sensing technology.

In virtually all global change studies that use Landsat data, the characteristics of the data set of greatest value are the ability to extract land cover information and the length of the data record. The historical record of Landsat data provides the best, documentable evidence available on change in the areal extent of a process and rate of process change. Because of these characteristics, Landsat data are a key link between local process studies and understanding the distribution and impact of phenomena at a global level. These data have been used, and will continue to be applied to topics as diverse as the rate of deterioration and agricultural yield estimation.

Program Interfaces:
The Landsat Program cuts across all the federal departments and agencies involved with Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR). Landsat data are fundamental in their basic and applied research programs that address global change issues.

Program Milestones:
The Landsat 7 satellite development was initiated as a competitive procurement by DoD in 1992. The Program was restructured by the administration and new agency responsibilities established by presidential Decision Directive/NSTC-3 in May 1994. NASA became the lead agency for development of the satellite and ground system. The satellite is being developed for launch by a medium expendable launch vehicle with launch commitment date of December 1998. The ground system will receive the enhanced thematic mapper data, process the data to level 0R and make the data available through the LPDACC at Sioux Falls, SD. The data will be available to a broad user community at the cost of fulfilling user request.

Policy Payoffs:
Landsat data are fundamental in modeling efforts such as those directed toward understanding trends of ecosystem dynamics, biodiversity, and geological and geophysical mapping