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 followed in the 1970s and 1980s. Landsat 7 was launched in 1999 followed by Landsat 8,  launched on February 11, 2013.  

Both Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 are currently in orbit and collecting data. Landsat 9 is in development, with a launch scheduled for late 2020.

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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How do I search for and download Landsat data?

Landsat data products held in the USGS archives can be searched and downloaded at no charge from a variety of sources. Visit the Landsat Data Access web page for information about how Landsat data products can be downloaded individually or in bulk. Landsat imagery not found in the USGS archive might have been collected by one of the USGS...

What Landsat data products are available?

There are several Landsat data products that are useful for science applications and land use/land change studies: Landsat Collections Level 1 - Ensures that the data in the Landsat Level-1 archive are consistent in processing and data quality to support time-series analyses and data stacking. Each Level-1 data product includes individual spectral...

Can Landsat satellite acquisition requests be made for a specific date and location?

Data acquisition requests are not available to the public. The Landsat 8 and Landsat 7 satellites each acquire data on a continual basis in accordance with their respective Long Term Acquisitions Plans. The Landsat Acquisitions page has calendars and information about daily schedules. Learn more: Landsat 8 Long Term Acquisitions Plan Landsat 7...

How do I open Landsat satellite data files?

Many image processing programs (ERDAS IMAGINE®, PCI Geomatica®, ENVI®, IDRISI®, etc.)* can import a variety of image formats, including the GeoTIFF files of Landsat data. Free Multispec software that is included with the USGS lesson plan Tracking Change Over Time can be used for limited spectral analysis. To view Landsat scenes without using...

After a Landsat scene is collected, when will it become available for search and download?

Landsat scenes directly downlinked to the USGS EROS Landsat Ground Station become available through EarthExplorer within 6 hours after acquisition, and then become visible in GloVis and the LandsatLook Viewe r within 24 hours. Scenes downlinked to other USGS Ground Stations can be available within 1 to 2 weeks. Scenes downlinked to International...

Are there any restrictions on the use or redistribution of Landsat data?

There are no restrictions on Landsat data downloaded from the USGS; it can be used or redistributed as desired. We do request that you include a statement of the data source when citing, copying, or reprinting USGS Landsat data or images. Details are on the EROS Data Citation page. Learn more: USGS Copyrights and Credits statement

What are the best Landsat spectral bands for use in my research?

The Spectral Characteristics Viewer is an interactive tool that can be used to visualize how the bands--or channels--of different satellite sensors measure the intensity of the many wavelengths (colors) of light. This is also known as the relative spectral response (RSR). By overlaying the spectral curves from different features (spectra), one can...
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Date published: April 10, 2019

Level-3 Products Provide Land Cover Gold in Landsat Data Mining

When it comes to mining remotely sensed data, Landsat Level-3 science products offer what some might call land cover gold.

Date published: April 17, 2018

Free, Open Landsat Data Unleashed the Power of Remote Sensing a Decade Ago

In the old days, before 2008, a view of planet Earth from space often came at a cost.

Date published: March 24, 2017

New “Landsat Collections” Help Facilitate Land Change Science

Access to consistent high-quality images to study changes on Earth’s surface is getting easier. The USGS Landsat standard (Level-1) product inventory is now structured by data quality and offers improved calibration. Data designated as Tier 1 provide the highest accuracy and can be reliably used to analyze changes to Earth’s surface over time.

Date published: September 21, 2016

A Vision to Observe Earth

Toward a space-based perspective of our planet in the 1960s

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May 31, 2018

Landsat in Action - Land Cover and Land Cover Change with Tom Loveland

Tom Loveland talks about using Landsat's data for land use and land cover change research.

Find this video and thousands more at https://usgs.gov/gallery.

Stay up-to-date on USGS topics and news on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more at https://usgs

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March 23, 2018

Landsat in Action - The Importance of Landsat with Curtis Woodcock

Boston University Professor Curtis Woodcock talks about the significance Landsat was had in science and what he hopes to see as the mission continues.
 

December 6, 2017

Every Pixel - Landsat's Orbit

Ever wonder how Landsat 8 orbits our planet? Here is an overview to explain this part of how we capture every pixel.
 

October 18, 2017

Landsat In Action - Monitoring Polar Ice Caps with Ted Scambos

Ted Scambos, Lead Scientist at the National Snow & Ice Data Center, talks about the roll of Landsat in his research studying polar regions.
 

October 18, 2017

Landsat In Action - Assessing Global Impact with Alan Belward

Alan Belward from the European Union's Joint Research Center discusses how Landsat helps his team promote sustainable development.
 

March 31, 2017

Landsat 8 Swath Animation

The Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center has created a video animation describing how Landsat 8 orbits the Earth. The video explains the 16-day cycle for capturing imagery of the entire world.
 

Landsat Imagery
August 10, 2016

Landsat Imagery

December 11, 2015

What's the Big Idea? — Charting Change from the Skies

Tom Loveland, research scientist with the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science Center, explains how he uses data — both past and present — to help scientists, natural resource managers, and the public better understand how the face of the planet is shifting and what that change means.

December 31, 2012

2012 Landsat Promotional Global Perspective of Natural Changes

A promotional video on Landsat's Global Perspective of Natural Changes.

December 19, 2007

An Idea That Worked

On September 21, 1966, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall issued a press statement stating his belief that "the time is now right and urgent to apply space technology towards the solution of many pressing natural resources problems being compounded by population and industrial growth." This video provides a sense of America's long-term commitment to conservation,

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