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The USGS provides the mapping and digital geospatial foundation for the Nation.

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A USGS AeroVironment RQ11 Raven unmanned aircraft.
The USGS unmanned aircraft systems activities focus on two small UAS acquired from the Department of Defense, the 4.4-pound AeroVironment Raven aircraft and the 20-pound Honeywell T-Hawk hovercraft. These small UAS are designed to support short (90 minute) missions, and operate on rechargeable batteries or gasoline. Small UAS can be relatively...
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Ignites Controlled Fires
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) provide an affordable solution when the USGS needs "eyes in the sky" but doesn’t have the budget to maintain a fleet of aircraft or to obtain commercial imagery.  The USGS relies on a variety of remotely sensed data. Manned aircraft flights are often not feasible due to safety concerns associated with long flights,...
An unmanned aircraft or drone flying.
The USGS Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office and the Office of Aviation Services are leading the development and testing of UAS scientific and resource management technology across the Department of the Interior in coordination with the other bureaus. Department of the Interior UAS capabilities support a range of activities including...
In the past, each USGS topographic map typically required 3 individual lithographic stones for printing, one for each color show
You can order the good old-fashioned paper versions of the state by state indexes of USGS topographic maps online from the USGS Store. The indexes are free, but there is a $5 handling charge for an order. You can also interact with these index maps in this area of the USGS Store. Double-click on an index and double-click a few times to zoom in and...
Image: USGS Topographers at Work
The USGS Field Records Library in Denver, Colorado, has an extensive collection of materials.  USGS Field Records LibraryBox 25046, MS 914Denver Federal CenterDenver, CO 80225-0046Telephone: 303-236-1000FAX: 303-236-0015TDD: 303-236-0998E-mail: den_lib@usgs.gov To find field record materials related to Alaska, contact: Jill SchneiderUSGS Mineral...
Image: USGS Topographic Field Party
After the completion of the original 7.5-minute map series in 1992, the USGS mapping program focused on creating national geographic information system (GIS) databases. Topographic map revision tapered off in the 1990s, and the last traditional 7.5-minute topographic map revisions were printed in 2006.  In November 2008, USGS management committed...
HI Honolulu US Topo (Browse Image for Story Map)
Current US Topo maps and maps from the Historical Topographic Map Collection (HTMC) can be downloaded as PDF documents free of charge from several USGS applications. For details, see this FAQ. You can purchase paper topographic maps online from the USGS Store.    
Image: Cartographers in the Field
A map is a representation of the earth, or part of it. The distinctive characteristic of a topographic map is the use of contour lines to show the shape of the earth's surface. USGS topographic maps also show many other kinds of geographic features, including roads, railroads, rivers, streams, lakes, buildings, built-up areas, boundaries, place or...
Image: Alaskan Elders
Once you've gathered as many facts about family history and customs as possible, turn to maps to uncover more specific information or to solve historical mysteries. Old and new maps can help you track down facts about a branch of your family. In the United States, birth, death, property, and some other kinds of records are normally kept by county...
1940 legacy topographic map quadrangle of the Spring Creek area
At the bottom of most USGS topographic quadrangle maps is a diagram that shows three north arrows -- true north, grid north, and magnetic north -- and the angles between them. Some maps, especially very old maps, do not have this diagram. True north, also called geodetic north or geographic north, is the direction of the line of longitude that...
1914 USGS legacy topographic map of the Muscle Shoals, Alabama
A USGS topographic map usually is named for the most prominent feature within the bounds of the map, which is frequently a community. Topographic maps generally are named for the most centrally located, well-known, and/or largest community identified on the map. If the community for which the map should be named falls on two or more maps, a...
Image shows a satellite view of Rotterdam Harbor
Landsat 7 ETM+ SLC-off data refers to all Landsat 7 images collected after May 31, 2003, when the Scan Line Corrector (SLC) failed. These products have data gaps, but are still useful and maintain the same radiometric and geometric corrections as data collected prior to the SLC failure. The Landsat 7 page provides information about the SLC-off...