Landsat Advisory Group undertakes a Landsat Cost Recovery Study

Release Date:

The Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have requested a Federal Advisory Committee to review USGS’s current free-and-open policy for user access to Landsat data.  The following material provides a synopsis of frequently-asked questions and answers about the ongoing review.

Will the USGS begin to charge Landsat users for data?
No decisions have been made regarding any change to the current policy of providing users free and open access to Landsat data. A study has just been initiated to gather information on the potential use of Landsat fees. USGS does not expect the study to be completed until late in 2018, so no decision will be made this year.

What prompted the USGS to consider charging users for Landsat data?
The Department of the Interior requested the USGS consider charging user fees to recover Landsat mission costs.

Hasn't this been studied before?
This subject is not new; it has come up from time to time since Landsat’s free-and-open data policy was enacted in 2008. Prior to 2008, users were charged for Landsat data.

Who is leading this study?
DOI and USGS have asked the Landsat Advisory Group (LAG), a subcommittee to the National Geospatial Advisory Committee to prepare an advisory report.

How and when will the study be done?
The LAG will review related publications and studies and will deliver a report in late 2018.

What should we expect to see in the report?
LAG reports are advisory. The new report will consider recent technological developments in land remote sensing and explore various user fee options. USGS expects the report will outline the pros and cons of various Landsat data policies to public and private sector users including continued U.S. access to data from Europe’s Copernicus Sentinel satellites and prospects for public-private partnerships for future U.S. land-imaging missions.

How and when will the decision be made?
DOI and USGS will consider the LAG report, the perspective of partners, stakeholders, the user community, and Administration guidance prior to formulating any changes in Landsat data policy. Users should not expect a decision before 2019.

How can users get updates?
USGS will post periodic LAG updates on the National Geospatial Advisory Committee website.

Can users provide feedback?
Yes. Given the breadth of users and applications Landsat supports, USGS understands the need for users to share with the LAG their views on current and prospective future Landsat data policies. Users can provide inputs to the LAG and USGS at

Where can I get more background information?
Previous LAG papers are posted on the NGAC website.