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Remote sensing satellites orbit Earth, bringing data to researchers and decision makers around the world. Here's an introduction to satellites and remote sensing science.

Episode 109 – Fall 2023 EROS Poster Session

A man's profile in front of a science poster with a microphone being held in front of him and a logo placed on top of him
Naeem Malik.

In this episode, we hear from several EROS staff members and university graduate students who took part in our Fall Poster Session. Lively conversations filled the EROS atrium during the hour-long event. Participants got to learn from one another as they shared their work. We talked to a few of them to get quick summaries of their research.

Guests: Belinda Apili (graduate student, South Dakota State University), Khushboo Jain (graduate student, University of South Dakota), Naeem Malik (graduate student, South Dakota State University), Stefanie Kagone (ASRC Federal Data Solutions, contractor to USGS EROS), Abby Miller (C2G, contractor to USGS EROS), Steve Boyte (USGS EROS), Sakshi Saraf (graduate student, University of South Dakota), Zack Schild (graduate student, University of South Dakota), Ubaid Janjua (graduate student, South Dakota State University)

Host: Tom Adamson (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Monday, December 4, 2023


Episode 105 – Imagery Challenges of Alaska

3 people with Alaska mountain in background
Neal Pastick (clockwise from left), Donna Viola and Jon Dewitz.

In this episode, we focus on Alaska. Rich in wildlife and natural resources, not to mention its sheer size, Alaska has long been a source of fascination for remote sensing scientists.

Guests: Donna Viola, formerly of the Land Change Monitoring, Assessment and Projection (LCMAP) project, Jon Dewitz, the coordinator for the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) at EROS, and Neal Pastick, a physical scientist at EROS.

Host: Sheri Levisay (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Episode 102 – LANDFIRE 2022 Update

A woman smiles while dressed in a yellow suit with a fire burning in the background
Inga La Puma on the set of a prescribed burn.

LANDFIRE, short for Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools, is a key national data source for the management of wildfires, management of the plant materials that fuel fires, and planning for prescribed fires across all 50 states and the U.S. territories. The data products, partly derived from satellite imagery, are generated at EROS through a partnership between the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service, with The Nature Conservancy as an additional partner. In this episode, we learn about how LANDFIRE is including more up-to-date information than ever about disturbances to the land.

Guest: Inga La Puma, a USGS EROS contractor at the time of the recording but now with the USDA Forest Service, still as a LANDFIRE fire scientist

Host: Jane Lawson (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Monday, August 28, 2023


Episode 96 – Generational Science

Logo on a background of a man in a forest turned away from the camera but looking back
Peder Nelson 

In this episode, we talk with Peder Nelson about generational science and the responsibility we have to future generations to study our changing planet. It takes more than just data to make sense of land change. And while remote sensing scientists work with the deep archive of Landsat and other land data available from the USGS EROS Center, everyone can put themselves on the timeline of Landsat data. Citizen science projects allow anyone to participate in the observations that help us understand the world around us. 

Guest: Peder Nelson, Oregon State University

Host: Tom Adamson (contractor for USGS EROS)

Release date: Tuesday, June 20, 2023

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 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 82 - Introduction to GEDI

Logo with two people's mugshots and a view skyward within trees
Laura Duncanson and Ralph Dubayah, both of the University of Maryland.

The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation, or GEDI, instrument on the International Space Station acquires lidar waveforms to observe the Earth’s surface in 3D. The GEDI lidar measures the height and density of objects, so it provides information such as surface elevation and tree canopy height and cover. The NASA Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC) at EROS provides storage and distribution of GEDI data.  In this episode, we’ll take a look at the purpose of the GEDI mission, how the instrument works, and how GEDI data are being used to understand things like carbon dynamics in forests.

Guests: Ralph Dubayah and Laura Duncanson, University of Maryland and the GEDI mission

Host: Jane Lawson

Release date: Monday, October 24, 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 41 – Albedo

Color photo of Dr. Crystal Schaaf with the graphic for the USGS EROS podcast Eyes on Earth
Landsat Science Team member Dr. Crystal Schaaf

Albedo—the amount of incoming solar radiation reflected into space from the Earth’s surface—is a key measurement for surface temperatures and plant productivity. It also factors into weather forecasting and climate modeling. Landsat Science Team member Dr. Crystal Schaaf works with graduate and postdoctoral students to measure albedo using satellite data from the University of Massachusetts-Boston. On this episode of Eyes on Earth, Dr. Schaaf talks about albedo’s importance and how satellites can be used to track changes to it over time.

Guest:  Dr. Crystal Schaaf, University of Massachusetts-Boston

Host: Steve Young

Release date: January 11, 2021

Episode 38 – Time Series Analysis with Landsat

Dr. Curtis Woodcock with the logo for the USGS EROS podcast Eyes on Earth
Dr. Curtis Woodcock of Boston Univeristy

In the past, remote sensing scientists looked for change on the Earth’s surface primarily by comparing one Landsat image to another. Today, open access to Landsat data, high-performance and cloud computing capabilities and sophisticated algorithms can be used to scan the entirety of the archive for change, enabling researchers to learn more about how the landscape shifts over time. On this episode of Eyes on Earth, Landsat Science Team member Dr. Curtis Woodcock shares his thoughts on time series analysis, the future of remote sensing and his hopes for the Landsat program.

Guest:  Dr. Curtis Woodcock, Boston University

Host: Steve Young

Release date: November 16, 2020

Episode 36 - International Charter Turns 20

Color photo of Mike Budde with the logo for the USGS EROS podcast Eyes on Earth
Mike Budde of USGS EROS.

When a disaster like a hurricane, flood or major wildfire hits a remote part of the world, the International Charter Space and Natural Disasters springs into action. The Charter’s members collect and distribute satellite-derived data that documents the damage, as well as derived products like as fire perimeter or structural damage maps – all at no cost to national emergency management agencies. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we learn about the Charter and EROS’ involvement on the occasion of the collaborative organization’s 20th Anniversary.  

Guest: Mike Budde, USGS

Host: Tom Adamson

Release date: October 19, 2020

Episode 28 – Peer Reviews

Marvin Bauer with Eyes on Earth podcast graphic
Remote Sensing and Environment editor emeritus Marvin Bauer, pictured with the graphic for the USGS EROS podcast Eyes on Earth.

Remote sensing is not an especially venerable scientific discipline, at least in comparison to fields like biology, chemistry or medicine. From its beginnings with aerial photography in the 1920s through the initial stages of satellite-based land imaging in the early 1970s, few peer-reviewed publications were available for scientists to share their ideas and improve their methods. The rise of rigorous peer review in the 1970s through publications like Remote Sensing of Environment (RSE) helped advance the discipline, with leaders such as RSE’s longtime editor Marvin Bauer serving as guides and gatekeepers as space-based remote sensing moved from emergent technology to a critical component of our understanding of Earth.

Guests: Marv Bauer, Editor Emeritus, Remote Sensing of Environment

Host: Steve Young

Release date: June 29, 2020

Episode 26 – Satellite Constellations

Jim Lacasse with the graphic for the USGS EROS podcast Eyes on Earth
Jim Lacasse.

Between them, Landsat satellites 7 and 8 image the entire land surface of Earth every eight days. The USGS orbiters are just two of many Earth observing satellites flying at the same altitude and collecting data at the same time of day. Other “constellations” of satellites gather other kinds of data, traveling one after the other like cars on a train to collect information that can be used independently or combined to produce models that help us understand the health and well-being of the planet. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we learn about those satellites, the value they provide, and how their operators work together to insure the smooth and safe collection of scientific information.

Guests: Jim Lacasse, USGS

Host: Steve Young

Release date: June 1, 2020

Episode 14 – Space Debris

Color photo of Doug Daniels with the graphic for the USGS EROS podcast "Eyes on Earth"
Doug Daniels, Principal Systems Engineer with the Aerospace Corporation at USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center.

Sixty years of manned and unmanned space flight have left a cosmic junkyard circling the planet. In 2017, the U.S. government reported that it logged 308,984 close calls with space junk and issued 655 emergency-reportable alerts to satellite operators. In this episode, we learn about that debris, its potential dangers, and how Landsat flight operators keep their satellites out of harm’s way.

Guest: Doug Daniels, Principal Systems Engineer with the Aerospace Corporation

Host: Steve Young

Release date: Jan. 13, 2020

Episode 6 - Satellites 101

Color photo of Doug Daniels with the graphic for the USGS EROS podcast "Eyes on Earth"
Doug Daniels, Principal Systems Engineer with the Aerospace Corporation at USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, pictured with the graphic for the EROS podcast "Eyes on Earth."

How much does an Earth observation satellite weigh? How are they launched? How fast does it travel? Does Landsat have a gas tank? In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we answer some of the basic questions surrounding the satellites that define the EROS mission.

Guest: Doug Daniels, Principal Systems Engineer with the Aerospace Corporation

Host: Steve Young

Release date: Oct. 21, 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.

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

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 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