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The Landsat Program and the EROS archive have a rich history of providing science and data to the world. Listen to these episodes touching on some pieces of their past.

Episode 103 – EROS 50th: Alumni and Friends, Part 1

A tent in front of a building

At the USGS EROS 50th anniversary events August 17-19, 2023, a special effort was made to include alumni who had worked at the center, especially those from the earliest years of EROS’ existence. This episode of Eyes on Earth highlights their stories, with emphasis on EROS’ history and its dedicated employees.

Guests: Dave Greenlee, Tom Earley, Charles Luden, Ron Beck, Rhonda Watkins, Chris McGinty, Mary O’Neill, John Faundeen and Frank Kelly

Host: Sheri Levisay (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Monday, September 18, 2023


Episode 101 – EROS 50th: Director Pete Doucette Looks Ahead

Man standing next to large globe with logos on top
Pete Doucette 

EROS Center Director Pete Doucette has been at EROS for a fairly short stretch of the center’s 50-year history, but his passion for the mission of EROS and its opportunities in the future are clear in this episode. He shares the historic event he would have enjoyed being part of in the past, and he gives insights about remote sensing work at EROS going forward.

Guest: Pete Doucette, EROS Center Director

Host: Jane Lawson (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Monday, August 14, 2023

Episode 100 – EROS 50th: Our Legacy

The outdoor front entrance of a facility with a couple logos on top and the words "100th Episode"

As USGS EROS turns 50 this month, our podcast also marks a big moment: Episode 100. To celebrate, we bring together some treasured moments from previous episodes in which people inside and outside of EROS share their thoughts on EROS and its role in the world of remote sensing, including as keeper of all Landsat satellite data.

Guests: Tom Loveland, Mike O’Brien, Greg Stensaas, Mike Budde, Chris Funk, Kristi Kline, Barb Ryan, Curtis Woodcock, Chris Barber, Dennis Helder, Francis Dwomoh, Roger Auch, Heather Tollerud, Todd Taylor, Volker Radeloff, Mary O’Neill, Steve Covington, Zhe Zhu, Ann Tripp, Jon Christopherson

Host: Tom Adamson (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Monday, August 7, 2023

Episode 99 – EROS 50th: Interns Who Stayed

A logo and four mugshots on top of an aerial photo
Roger Auch (clockwise from top left), Jesslyn Brown, Kristi Sayler and Susan Embrock.

EROS has a long history of reaching out to universities to welcome interns who can both contribute to the center and gain valuable skills and experience. A good number of them went on to spend their careers at EROS, some for more than three decades. In this episode, these interns who stayed emphasized above all the mission—observing Earth remotely, recording the changes and applying those to science—as their motivation for remaining at EROS. However, all of them also mentioned another key word that inspired them to stay: camaraderie.

Guests: Jesslyn Brown, Susan Embrock, Kristi Sayler, Roger Auch

Host: Sheri Levisay (contractor for USGS EROS)

Producer: Tom Adamson (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Monday, July 31, 2023

Episode 98 – EROS 50th: Conservation

Aerial photo background overlaid with logo and the mugshots of two men and a woman
Tim Smith (from top), Brent Nelson and Tracy Michel.

In this episode, we talk about the 50-year history of EROS efforts to preserve the environment and conserve energy. EROS was born in the ’70s, the same decade as Earth Day, the EPA, and the oil crisis. Environmentally conscious decisions implemented by both the EROS Center and the employee association include reclaiming silver from photo processing, using solar panels to heat the water needed for that process, and starting a vanpool.

Guests: Brent Nelson, Information and Management Services Operations Work Manager and contractor for USGS EROS; Tim Smith Information Management Services Archive Task Lead and contractor for USGS EROS; and Tracy Michel, USGS Safety and Occupational Health Specialist

Host: Sheri Levisay (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Monday, July 17, 2023

Episode 97 – EROS 50th: Earth As Art

Logo with colorful satellite image background and three men's mugshots on top
Jon Christopherson (clockwise from left), Pat Scaramuzza and Ron Hayes

Satellites capture an incredible variety of views of Earth. In this episode, we talk with the three engineers at USGS EROS who started the USGS Earth As Art project. The Earth As Art origin story is an example of the initiative and creativity of EROS staff. This stunningly visual product grabs the public’s attention—and then leads to conversations about the value of remote sensing with satellites.

*Be sure to listen to the bonus material (second audio file below), where the guests talk about their favorite Earth As Art images.

Guests: Jon Christopherson, Principal System Engineer, contractor for USGS EROS; Ron Hayes, Digital Data Technical Lead, contractor for USGS EROS; Pat Scaramuzza, Senior Scientist, contractor for USGS EROS

Host: Tom Adamson (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Monday, July 3, 2023

Episode 97
Episode 97 - Bonus

Episode 95 – EROS 50th: Landsat Science Team

Logo with satellite and Earth in background, three male mugshots on the right side
Curtis Woodcock (from top), Mike Wulder and David Roy.

The members of the five-year Landsat Science Teams, led jointly by the USGS and NASA with a strong tie to EROS, have brought a wide breadth of expertise, backgrounds and geographic locations to the table. In this episode, we learn how members have explored strategies for the effective use of archived Landsat data and integration of future data, and how they have helped identify Landsat user needs for upcoming satellite sensors, including those on the future Landsat Next.  

Guests: Curtis Woodcock, Boston University and 4 terms on Landsat Science Team; Mike Wulder, Canadian Forest Service and 3 terms on Landsat Science Team; David Roy, Michigan State University professor and 2 terms on Landsat Science Team

Host: Jane Lawson (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Wednesday, June 7, 2023

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, 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 90 – Landsat 8 Turns 10

Logo with mugshot overlaying illustration of satellite above Earth
Keith Alberts.

Originally called the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, Landsat 8 launched on February 11, 2013. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we talk about the 10th anniversary of Landsat 8 being in orbit and its value to the remote sensing community. While we cannot predict the future, it does look promising that Landsat 8 can sustain that continuity for more years to come.

Guest: Keith Alberts, Acting Landsat Flight Operations Project Manager, EROS

Host: Tom Adamson

Release date: Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Episode 88 – Landsat 5’s Significance, Part 2

Logo with satellite image background and two mugshots
The thumbnail image for Eyes on Earth Episode 88 - Landsat 5's Significance, Part 2, with Steve Covington (top) and Jeff Devine (bottom).

In this episode, we learn about some of the challenges—and adrenaline rushes—Landsat 5 gave the flight operations team as it aged, as well as the fondness our two guests came to have for the satellite’s unique personality and the whole team as they served on it during the satellite’s twilight years. Designed to last three years, Landsat 5 launched in 1984 and transmitted data until the launch of Landsat 8 in 2013. In October 2022, the Flight Operations Team won the 2020 Group Pecora Award during the 22nd William T. Pecora Memorial Remote Sensing Symposium.

Guests: Steve Covington, former Landsat 5 flight manager, now Aerospace Corp. contractor serving as the principal systems engineer for the USGS National Land Imaging Program; and Jeff Devine, former Landsat 5 lead operations engineer, now KBR contractor leading the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope Flight Operations Team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Host: Jane Lawson

Release date: January 23, 2023

Episode 87 – Landsat 5’s Significance, Part 1

Logo with a background satellite image and two mugshots on the left
Steve Covington (top) and Jeff Devine (bottom).

In this episode, we learn about the significance of this satellite, which set a Guinness World Record for “Longest Operating Earth Observation Satellite.” Our two guests served on the flight operations team in the satellite’s twilight years and describe its importance to the unbroken record of Landsat data. They also share their personal connections with the satellite—including a journey from watching the launch on a monitor at EROS to eventually leading the team.

Guests: Steve Covington, former Landsat 5 flight manager, now Aerospace Corp. contractor serving as the principal systems engineer for the USGS National Land Imaging Program; and Jeff Devine, former Landsat 5 lead operations engineer, now KBR contractor leading the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope Flight Operations Team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Host: Jane Lawson

Release date: January 9, 2023

Episode 79 – Landsat Global Archive Consolidation

Logo with mugshots and background image of reels and a tape
Upper left: Jayson Holter. Lower right: Todd Taylor.

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, 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

Release date: August 29, 2022

Episode 78 – Landsat 50 Lookback 

Satellite image with Eyes on Earth podcast logo on top

Government officials and scientists had high hopes for Landsat when the first experimental satellite launched July 23, 1972. Those hopes were soon realized when imagery came back depicting features never before seen. Since then, an archive of imagery surpassing 10 million scenes has amassed at EROS, collected from eight different Landsat satellites. Agencies, scientists, researchers, and data analysts use Landsat in a variety of ways to learn more about our planet, preserve its resources, and benefit its people. On this episode of Eyes on Earth, we spotlight how several guests from past Eyes on Earth episodes value the Landsat imagery and archive, from forests and fires to lakes and cities.

Guests: Bob Schuchman of the Michigan Tech Research Institute, Sara Hart of Colorado State University, Rob Skakun of Natural Resources Canada, Andres Espejo of the World Bank, James Cottone on the New York City Council staff, Christian Braneon of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Frank Fay of the USDA Forest Service, former EROS Science Branch Chief John Dwyer

Host: John Hult

Release date: July 25, 2022

Episode 62 – Landsat 9 Launch Part 3 

Color photo of Kate Fickas and Virginia Norwood
Dr. Kate Fickas, USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, left, with Virginia Norwood, designer of the Multispectral Scanner (MSS) for early Landsat Missions.

In this episode, we hear from a pioneer in remote sensing. For our third and final episode of Eyes on Earth from the September launch of Landsat 9, we hear from Virginia Norwood. She blazed a trail for women in remote sensing in the 1960s and 70s while working for Hughes Aircraft, a contractor for NASA. Norwood is known as the “Mother of Landsat” for her design of the Multispectral Scanner, or MSS, the sensor used to image the Earth’s surface by early Landsat satellites. Norwood met her fans during a Q&A a few hours after the launch sponsored by the USGS and Ladies of Landsat. The episode also features an appearance from Kass Green, who founded a company in the 1980s that used Landsat data to map landscape change.

Guests: Virginia Norwood, physicist, Kass Green, Kass Green and Associates

Hosts: John Hult, Kate Fickas

Release date: November 30, 2021

Episode 61 – Landsat 9 Launch Part 2 

color thumbnail for Eyes on Earth Episode 61 - Landsat 9 Launch Part 2
Thumbnail for Eyes on Earth Episode 60 - Landsat 9 Part 2. Pictured, from top left, are Andres Espejo, Naikoa Aguilar-Amuchastegui, Ann Bray, and Marc Jochemich.

Hundreds of scientists, officials, international representatives, and others witnessed the launch of Landsat 9 on September 27, 2021, from a handful of viewing sites around Santa Barbara County, California. Their interests were as varied as their backgrounds, but the new satellite’s extension of the Landsat program’s invaluable 50-year record of Earth observations was top of mind for the international partners who help the USGS collect Landsat data and the scientists who rely on those data to monitor the health of the planet. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we talk with guests from around the world about their role in the Landsat program, and the importance of the program to their work.

Guests: Andres Espejo, Senior Forest Carbon Specialist, World Bank; Naikoa Aguilar-Amuchasegui, Senior Director of Forest Carbon Science and MRV Lead, World Wildlife Fund; Ann Bray, Minister-Counsellor for Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Australian Embassy; Marc Jochemich, Head of Washington, D.C. office, German Aerospace Center

Host: John Hult

Release date: November 15, 2021

Episode 60 – Landsat 9 Launch Part 1

Thumbnail for Eyes on Earth podcast episode 60 - Landsat 9 launch part 1
Thumbnail for Episode 60 of the USGS EROS podcast "Eyes on Earth."

Landsat 9 launched into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Monday, September 27, 2021, to carry on the legacy of a nearly 50-year record of continuous Earth observation that began in 1972. The days leading up to the event saw guests from around the world descend upon Santa Barbara County in California to watch the historic event take place. Over the next few weeks, we’ll bring you some of the interviews we collected with scientists, government officials and Mission partners. This episode of Eyes on Earth focuses on the day before the launch, when we spoke about the importance of the Landsat program with guests at the launchpad and a Landsat for Climate event.

Guests: Tanya Trujillo, Department of Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science; Tony Willardson, Director of the Western States Water Council; Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the California Water Resources Control Board; Kevin Gallagher, Associate Director of USGS Core Science Systems

Host: John Hult

Release date: October 13, 2021

Episode 59 – Landsat 9 Ground System

Color photo of Kari Wulf and Mike O'Brien with the logo for the EROS podcast "Eyes on Earth"
Kari Wulf (top left) and Mike O'Brien.

The launch of Landsat 9 in September of 2021 represents a milestone for a joint USGS/NASA program that stretches back nearly 50 years. Landsat 9 will continue the legacy of unbroken, repeat Earth observations and contribute to our understanding of a changing planet. The primary USGS roles for Landsat satellites, which are built and launched by NASA, are to operate the ground system, process and archive the data, and distribute it to users around the world. On this episode of Eyes on Earth, we hear from two people who’ve been involved in the development of the Landsat 9 ground system to learn what it takes to bring Landsat data to the Earth and transform it into the data products and imagery we all recognize.

Guests: Kari Wulf, Aerospace Corp, Landsat 9 mission integration lead and ground system manager, Mike O’Brien, contractor and ground system engineer

Host: John Hult

Release date: Sept. 20, 2021

Episode 53 - Remapping Canada's Fire History

Ellen Whitman and Rob Skakun of Natural Resources Canada with the graphic for the USGS EROS podcast "Eyes on Earth"
Ellen Whitman (upper left) and Rob Skakun of Natural Resources Canada.

Mapping fire perimeters is important work. It guides post-fire restoration efforts, fire mitigation strategies, and helps track of trends in burn severity over time. In the past, many of Canada’s fire agencies relied heavily on techniques like sketch mapping, which estimate burned area without exact measurements. In the pre-satellite era, pilots would sometimes fly over the edge of a fire while a passenger recorded its extent. On this episode of Eyes on Earth, we hear about what two researchers from Natural Resources Canada learned when they used Landsat satellite data to rebuild historical fire perimeters. 

Guest:  Ellen Whitman and Rob Skakun, Natural Resources Canada

Host: John Hult

Release date: June 28, 2021

Episode 31 – Landsat 7 Flight Operations

Color photo of Guy Thayer with graphic for USGS EROS podcast Eyes on Earth
USGS EROS/NASA Contractor Guy Thayer

Just recently, in mid-July, the flight operations team charged with keeping the Landsat 7 satellite running smoothly achieved a major milestone. They have gone 8 straight years now without an operator error. Considering that the team is operating a machine that costs hundreds of millions of dollars and flies at more than 17,000 miles per hour, avoiding any kind or operator error for 8 years is a reason to celebrate. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we hear from the supervisor of the team behind the incredible flight operations run.

Guests: Guy Thayer, Aerospace Corporation

Host: Steve Young

Release date: August 10, 2020

Episode 19 – 100 Million Landsat Downloads

Color image of satellite image and two guests of the USGS EROS Eyes on Earth podcast
Pictured are Barb Ryan (above), former Secretariat-Director for the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and former Associate Director of Geography for USGS; Kristi Kline (below), Project Manager for the Landsat Archive.

For decades, each Landsat image had a price tag – a hefty one at times ranging from 400 dollars to as much as 4,000 dollars. That all changed in 2008 with the enactment of an open data policy that made the entire Landsat archive available for download at no cost to the user. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we talk with one of the architects of that policy, as well as an EROS data manager who saw the post-2008 spike in Landsat data use in real time. The 100 millionth Landsat scene was recently downloaded from the EROS archive, marking a major milestone for a policy shift that opened the door to previously impossible wide-scale research projects and generated billions of dollars in returns worldwide.

Guests: Barb Ryan, former Secretariat-Director for the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and former Associate Director of Geography for USGS; Kristi Kline, Project Manager for the Landsat Archive.

Host: Steve Young

Release date: March 13, 2020

Episode 5 - Declassified Data at EROS

Volker Radeloff with USGS EROS "Eyes on Earth" graphic
Dr. Volker Radeloff, a professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

In this episode, we learn how declassified satellite data helps scientists study the past. There’s a lot more than Landsat in the EROS Archive. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we hear from a professor who’s mined satellite data collected during once-classified military missions to peer into the history of land use in Eastern Europe during the height of the Cold War.

Guest: Volker Radeloff, professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison

Host: Steve Young

Release date: Oct. 7, 2019

Episode 2 Chernobyl

Color photo of John Dwyer with Eyes on Earth podcast logo
John Dwyer, former Science and Applications Branch Chief at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center.

When the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant's Reactor 4 disaster struck Ukraine on April 26, 1986, Landsat satellites were among the first to capture visual evidence of its widespread impact. The disaster focused the world's attention on the value of remote sensing.

Guest: John Dwyer, EROS Science Branch Chief

Host: Steve Young

Release date: Sept. 9, 2019