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The USGS EROS Center has hosted remote sensing data for 50 years in its location in rural South Dakota. The Center opened in 1973, the year after the launch of Landsat 1, with the intent to archive and distribute Landsat data. It has evolved into much more. Get to know us with these episodes.

Episode 1 - Intro to EROS

Color photo of Tom Loveland with Eyes on Earth podcast logo
Tom Loveland, former Chief Scientist at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center.

In this first episode, we learn about EROS history and purpose. A rundown of the history of the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, the Landsat program, and the Center's role in the observation and study of landscape change worldwide.

Guest: Dr. Thomas Loveland, former Chief Scientist

Host: Steve Young


Release date: Sept. 9, 2019

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Episode 94 – EROS 50th: Collaborations with SDSU

Tall man stands next to woman in the bright EROS atrium
Dennis Helder and Mary O'Neill 

South Dakota State University opened its Remote Sensing Institute even before the launch of Landsat 1 and the selection of South Dakota as the location for EROS. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we talk about some of the collaborations that SDSU and EROS have both benefited from, including research projects centered on Landsat and other data sources, instrument calibration and validation, and trainings, presentations and workshops. SDSU faculty and EROS staff have ventured back and forth, and SDSU students have worked as interns and found employment at EROS. 

Guests: Mary O’Neill, former program manager of SDSU’s Office of Remote Sensing and outgoing AmericaView board director, and Dennis Helder, founder of SDSU’s Image Processing Lab, former head of the Electrical Engineering Department and current part-time technical adviser and contractor at EROS

Host: Jane Lawson (contractor for USGS EROS)

Producer: Tom Adamson (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Episode 93 – EROS 50th: Film Scanning

Two men sitting and posing in an office setting

Working with film has always been part of EROS’ 50-year history. How did EROS end up with an extensive film archive, and how are we making that data available to users? In this episode, we talk about the custom scanners built in-house from discarded parts to digitally capture historical aerial photos and declassified spy satellite images. These Phoenix systems have scanned millions of images and still have a lot of work to do.

Guests: Tim Smith and Mike Austad (contractors for USGS EROS)

Host: Tom Adamson (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Monday, April 3, 2023

Episode 92 – EROS 50th: The Library and Science Support

Logo with background of woman standing in front of large globe taller than her
USGS EROS librarian Carol Deering. 

The Don Lee Kulow Library has been supporting scientific research at EROS since before the facility opened its doors in 1973. In this episode, librarian Carol Deering explains how, rather than becoming obsolete with the advent of instant access to online journals, libraries are even more crucial for the discovery of previous studies and for gauging the reach and real-world effects of research done by EROS scientists. She also talks about the history of EROS and describes a one-time quest for documents that stretched from UC Berkeley to the Library of Congress to Australia and Kenya.

Guest: Carol Deering, Librarian at the Don Lee Kulow Memorial Library at USGS EROS

Host: Sheri Levisay

Release date: Monday, March 20, 2023

Episode 91 – Intro to AmericaView

Logo with four mugshots on colorful satellite image background
Guests are (clockwise from top left) Chris McGinty and Lisa Wirth of AmericaView, J.C. Seong of GeorgiaView, and Sal Cook of the USGS.

AmericaView aims to advance Earth observation education through a network of programs based at universities in more than 40 states. In this episode, we talk about AmericaView’s goals and how AmericaView and its member states explain remote sensing efforts to society in a variety of ways, including outreach to students who range from elementary to graduate school. We also give examples of the organization’s remote sensing research and describe AmericaView’s ties with the USGS and with Landsat.

Guests: Chris McGinty, Executive Director of AmericaView; Lisa Wirth, Program Director of AmericaView; Sal Cook, USGS Program Liaison for the AmericaView Grant; J.C. Seong, Principal Investigator of GeorgiaView

Host: Jane Lawson

Release date: Monday, March 6, 2023

Episode 89 – EROS Workers and Weather

Logo on photo of two guys standing in front of a snow-covered area with a radome in the background

In this episode, we take a look at how essential employees ensure that the ground station keeps receiving satellite imagery during wintry weather. When the snow gets deep and the wind blows, it can be challenging for workers to travel to the USGS EROS Center, located several miles north of Sioux Falls, SD, on what used to be farmland. Most can telecommute these days, but in this episode, we discover how essential employees ensure there is in-person continuous monitoring of Landsat ground station operations during winter weather—sometimes even requiring an overnight stay.

Guests: Joe Blahovec, chief of the Satellite and Ground Systems Operations Branch (SGO), and Aaron Hensley, ground station shiftlead, Critical Mission Support Staff, KBR

Host: Sheri Levisay

Release date: Monday, February 6, 2023

Episode 81 – Tour of the EROS Radome

man standing in front of dome overlaid with logo
Eyes on Earth podcast logo with a photo of Mike O'Brien standing in front of the radome that protects the 10-meter antenna at Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center.

In this episode, we take a tour of a crucial component of the Landsat data acquisition process at EROS: the radome that houses the 10-meter antenna for downlinking data to be placed in the archive. The Landsat satellites have been collecting Earth imagery for more than 50 years. A key piece of equipment that moves the data from the spacecraft to the archive so researchers can use it is the antenna at the EROS Center. The antenna and its radome have a fascinating history of their own that adds to the overall Landsat story. In this episode, we go on location to learn about how the antenna works and how the ground station engineers at EROS make it possible to study land change with Landsat.

Guest: Mike O’Brien, contractor and ground station engineer, USGS EROS Center

Host: Tom Adamson

Release date: Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Episode 79 – Landsat Global Archive Consolidation 

Logo with mugshots and background image of reels and a tape
The Eyes on Earth podcast logo for Episode 79 about the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation.

In this episode, we learn about the process that has gradually added millions of earlier Landsat scenes to the 50-year archive. The Landsat archive at EROS contains an unparalleled 50 years of Earth observation data. But with earlier technologies, some Landsat scenes were collected and stored only by international ground receiving stations rather than in the central archive at EROS. More than 10 years ago, to help make that far-flung data available to scientists interested in land change over time, the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation (LGAC) project began having the reels and tapes sent to EROS to digitize that information. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we learn how that project has deepened the archive dramatically.

Guests: Todd Taylor, EROS contract task lead for Sustaining Land Imaging partnership support, and contractor Jayson Holter, EROS task manager for the Landsat Missions Operations Project, Ground Operations

Host: Tom Adamson

Producer: Brian Hauge

Release date: August 29, 2022

Episode 11 – EROS Fall Poster Session

Color photo of EROS Fall Poster Session
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center Fall Poster Session, shown with graphic for USGS EROS Eyes on Earth podcast.

In this episode, we hear from a few of the scientists on hand for the EROS Fall Poster Session. Each fall, EROS invites its staff scientists and area graduate students to visit for a noontime poster session. The poster sessions offer a change for those researchers to present their results to their peers and get feedback from their fellow scientists. For this episode, we’ll hear about research into biofuels, cloud-friendly Landsat data, shrubland mapping and satellite-based fire monitoring.

Guests: Dr. Sanath Kumar Sathyachandran, Matthew Rigge, Renee Pischke, contractors to USGS EROS; Logan Megard, South Dakota State University

Host: John Hult

Release date: Dec. 5, 2019


Episode 4 - Cataloging Earth Observation Satellites

Color photo of Jon Christopherson with USGS EROS "Eyes on Earth" graphic
Jon Christopherson, contractor with the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center.

In this episode, we learn about the ever-expanding number of Earth observation satellites. Earth observation used to be the province of a handful of countries with satellite technology. Today, hundreds of satellites are built all over the world and launched every year. This episode of Eyes on Earth talks about the explosive growth in the civilian and commercial remote sensing and EROS’ role in it.

Guest: Jon Christopherson, contractor to the USGS EROS Center

Host: John Hult

Release date: Sept. 23, 2019