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What is the Landsat satellite program and why is it important?

The Landsat Program is a series of Earth-observing satellite missions jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. 

On July 23, 1972, in cooperation with NASA, the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS-1) was launched. It was later renamed Landsat 1. Additional Landsat satellites have launched to bring the world an archive of remote sensing data. Currently orbiting and active satellites are Landsat 8, and Landsat 9. 

NASA and USGS are already planning the development of the follow-on SLI missions, to include Landsat Next, the successor mission to Landsat 9. 

Landsat satellites have the optimal ground resolution and spectral bands to efficiently track land use and to document land change due to climate change, urbanization, drought, wildfire, biomass changes (carbon assessments), and a host of other natural and human-caused changes. 

The Landsat Program’s continuous archive (1972-present) provides essential land change data and trending information not otherwise available. Landsat represents the world’s longest continuously acquired collection of space-based moderate-resolution land remote sensing data. Landsat is an essential capability that enables the U.S. Department of the Interior to wisely manage Federal lands. People around the world are using Landsat data for research, business, education, and other activities. 

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