National Land Imaging Program


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September 11, 2020

Image of the Week - Summer Fires Rage in California

As fire season continues in the western United States let's look back at a number of incidents tracked by officials across California in August. These fires were captured during the day by Landsats 7 and 8, in natural color bands of the visible spectrum. Landsat sensors also record infrared wavelengths revealing burn scars and active fires. Natural color images show smoke

September 2, 2020

Image of the Week - Time Travel by Permafrost

In Russia's Extreme North, a widening chasm known as the Batagaika Crater provides a unique opportunity to study the past. Early declassified aerial images recorded the crater's growth in the 1960s and 1970s followed by multispectral sensor imagery captured by Landsat and Sentinel satellites, building a continuous view over the last 60 years. But the gash in the ground

Color photo of Cody Anderson with graphic for USGS EROS podcast Eyes on Earth
July 27, 2020

Eyes on Earth Episode 32 - Lunar Calibration

Calibration teams at the USGS EROS Center use a variety of methods to make sure the data collected by Landsat satellites are an accurate representation of the Earth’s surface. They’re constantly comparing new imagery to old, tweaking algorithms to correct issues that might emerge, and using unchanging Earth surface sites and on-the-ground readings to check for consistency

Color photo of Matt Hansen with graphic for Eyes on Earth podcast.
July 24, 2020

Eyes on Earth Episode 33 – Global Land Change

Mapping land cover across the United States using Landsat satellite data is a difficult, time-intensive job, but there are jobs far larger. Matt Hansen, a Maryland-based professor and member of the Landsat Science Team focuses his efforts on mapping land cover and change on a global scale. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we hear from Matt on how he and his team use the

Color photo of Guy Thayer with graphic for USGS EROS podcast Eyes on Earth
July 22, 2020

Eyes on Earth Episode 31 – Landsat 7 Flight Operations

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

Jesslyn Brown (top) and Jennifer Rover with graphic for USGS EROS podcast "Eyes on Earth"
July 1, 2020

Eyes on Earth Episode 29 – Tracking Landscape Change with LCMAP

The U.S. Geological Survey took a bold step toward documenting change across the landscape with the launch of the first Landsat satellite in 1972. Since then, it’s collected nearly five decades of imagery. But it takes more than just imagery to understand change. It takes time, effort—and serious computing horsepower. The USGS Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and

Spatial Resolution Digital Imagery Guideline
June 18, 2020

Spatial Resolution Digital Imagery Guideline

This Spatial Resolution Digital Imagery Guideline was developed by Innovative and Imaging Research (I2R) for the USGS. This guide demonstrates how certain image specification parameters affect

June 16, 2020

Watering the Sahara

In a remote part of the Sahara Desert in Egypt, center pivot irrigation fields fill the landscape. Thanks to the Landsat archive, we can see how dramatically this area has changed over the last 35 years. But until the growth in irrigation, this part of the world hadn't changed much from a satellite's perspective. That's why Landsat calibration engineers originally chose it

Marvin Bauer with Eyes on Earth podcast graphic
June 16, 2020

Eyes on Earth Episode 28 - Peer Reviews

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

Color image of Australian wildfire with the graphic for the podcast "Eyes on Earth"
April 14, 2020

Eyes on Earth Episode 27 - Australian Wildfires

The continent of Australia experienced some of the most devastating wildfires in its history in late 2019 and early 2020. Remote sensing scientists in Australia, who collaborate closely with EROS, relied on satellites like Landsat to help assess and monitor the damage. In this episode of Eyes on Earth, we hear from one of our Australian partners on the value of satellite

March 10, 2020

Image of the Week - Summer Pools Appear in Antarctica


Landsat recently captured the most widespread meltwater pooling ever recorded on Antarctica's George VI Ice Shelf. Some melting is expected during the Antarctic summer, but the sheer extent of the stunning aqua ponds that have appeared amid the continent's warmest summer on record is remarkable.

Ponds appeared two years earlier in some of the same locations

Satellite image showing flowers blooming.
March 7, 2020

An Early Spring via Satellite

The study of the Earth's natural life cycles is known as phenology. Scientists track the emergence of shoots and leaves, blooming flowers and pollinators as phenological signals every spring.