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Eyes on Earth is a podcast on remote sensing, Earth observation, land change and science, brought to you by the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center. 

Click on an episode title below to visit the episode page. Episode pages include related content, transcript access, and full episode credits.

Search the podcast archive by topic here.

The Eyes on Earth podcast is currently hosted by Tom Adamson, Jane Lawson, and Sheri Levisay (contractors for USGS EROS). Episodes are produced by Tom Adamson. Past hosts include John Hult and Steve Young (contractors for USGS EROS). Past producers include John Hult and Brian Hauge (contractors for USGS EROS). 

Latest Episodes

Episode 108 – Landsat 8’s 100th Drag Make-Up Maneuver

Release date: Monday, November 20, 2023
Portrait of man seated in office smiling with logo superimposed on top
Larry Tornabene.

The Landsat Program is considered the gold standard for satellite Earth-observation imagery. To keep it that way, the USGS EROS Flight Operations Team continually monitors the flight paths of the Landsat satellites to make sure they stay at a consistent 705-kilometer altitude. That means frequently speeding it up to counter the effects of atmospheric drag. But that’s not all. The team accounts for solar activity, space junk, and other factors to keep the satellites safe. Landsat 8’s 100th Drag Make-Up maneuver in October 2023 gives us the opportunity, in this episode, to talk about these and the other maneuvers the flight team executes and how they work.

Guest: Larry Tornabene, Flight Systems Manager for Landsat 8


Episode 107 – EROS 50th: Land Cover, Part 2

Release date: Monday, November 13, 2023
Two men stand by a wall display of a map and explanations, with a logo on top
Jon Dewitz (left) and Terry Sohl.

The National Land Cover Database (NLCD) has a long history as the definitive U.S. land cover product. But the newer Land Change Monitoring, Assessment and Projection (LCMAP) effort takes a longer look back in time. In this episode, we learn how the two projects at EROS, both based on 30-meter resolution Landsat satellite data, are merging to bring the strengths of each to future data releases under the NLCD name. This is the second of two episodes discussing land cover work at EROS, with the first focused on earlier pioneering efforts.

Guests: Terry Sohl, Research Physical Scientist at USGS EROS, and Jon Dewitz, Physical Scientist at USGS EROS

Episode 106 – EROS 50th: Land Cover, Part 1

Release date: Monday, October 30, 2023
Black and white photo several decades old of woman sitting at computer and a logo on top
Jesslyn Brown in 1992.

Several decades ago, EROS employees were pioneers in land cover mapping—turning satellite imagery into a record of what covers the land, from farmland to forest to urban areas. National and global datasets with a variety of uses resulted from these efforts. In this episode, we explore some of this history, along with how it benefited people at the time and the mapping efforts that would follow. Our next episode will look at two modern efforts at EROS, NLCD and LCMAP, and how their strengths are merging for the next generation of land cover and change products.

Guest: Jesslyn Brown, longtime research geographer at USGS EROS

Episode 105 – Imagery Challenges of Alaska  

Release date: Tuesday, October 10, 2023
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. But it is also a source of frustration, with frequent cloud and snow cover and months of darkness each year. Three EROS researchers well versed in interpreting Landsat imagery from Alaska shared their insights about the Last Frontier.

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.

Episode 104 – EROS 50th: Alumni and Friends, Part 2

Release date: Monday, September 25, 2023
A rocket sits in the foreground of people visiting a data center

At the USGS EROS 50th anniversary events August 17-19, 2023, a special effort was made to include alumni who had worked at the center, especially those from the earliest years of EROS’ existence. This episode highlights their stories, with emphasis on science, technology and EROS’ international outlook.

Guests: Ron Beck, Ron Risty, Jeff Eidenshink, Bruce Millett, Dave Greenlee, Darrell Napton, Curtis Woodcock and Jim Irons

Episode 103 – EROS 50th: Alumni and Friends, Part 1

Release date: Monday, September 18, 2023
A tent in front of a building

At the USGS EROS 50th anniversary events August 17-19, 2023, a special effort was made to include alumni who had worked at the center, especially those from the earliest years of EROS’ existence. This episode highlights their stories, with emphasis on EROS’ history and its dedicated employees.

Guests: Dave Greenlee, Tom Earley, Charles Luden, Ron Beck, Rhonda Watkins, Chris McGinty, Mary O’Neill, John Faundeen and Frank Kelly

Episode 102 – LANDFIRE 2022 Update

Release date: Monday, August 28, 2023
A woman smiles while dressed in a yellow suit with a fire burning in the background
Inga La Puma on the site 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

Episode 101 – EROS 50th: Director Pete Doucette Looks Ahead

Release date: Monday, August 14, 2023
Man standing next to large globe with logos on top
Pete Doucette 

EROS Center Director Pete Doucette has been at EROS for a fairly short stretch of the center’s 50-year history, but his passion for the mission of EROS and its opportunities in the future are clear in this episode. He shares the historic event he would have enjoyed being part of in the past, and he gives insights about remote sensing work at EROS going forward.

Guest: Pete Doucette, EROS Center Director

Episode 100 – EROS 50th: Our Legacy

Release date: Monday, August 7, 2023
The outdoor front entrance of a facility with a couple logos on top and the words "100th Episode"

As USGS EROS turns 50 this month, our podcast also marks a big moment: Episode 100. To celebrate, we bring together some treasured moments from previous episodes in which people inside and outside of EROS share their thoughts on EROS and its role in the world of remote sensing, including as keeper of all Landsat satellite data.

Guests: Tom Loveland, Mike O’Brien, Greg Stensaas, Mike Budde, Chris Funk, Kristi Kline, Barb Ryan, Curtis Woodcock, Chris Barber, Dennis Helder, Francis Dwomoh, Roger Auch, Heather Tollerud, Todd Taylor, Volker Radeloff, Mary O’Neill, Steve Covington, Zhe Zhu, Ann Tripp, Jon Christopherson

Episode 99 – EROS 50th: Interns Who Stayed

Release date: Monday, July 31, 2023
A logo and four mugshots on top of an aerial photo
Roger Auch (clockwise from top left), Jesslyn Brown, Kristi Sayler and Susan Embrock.

EROS has a long history of reaching out to universities to welcome interns who can both contribute to the center and gain valuable skills and experience. A good number of them went on to spend their careers at EROS, some for more than three decades. In this episode, these interns who stayed emphasized above all the mission—observing Earth remotely, recording the changes and applying those to science—as their motivation for remaining at EROS. However, all of them also mentioned another key word that inspired them to stay: camaraderie.

Guests: Jesslyn Brown, Susan Embrock, Kristi Sayler, Roger Auch


Episode 98 – EROS 50th: Conservation 

Release date: Monday, July 17, 2023
Aerial photo background overlaid with logo and the mugshots of two men and a woman
Tim Smith (from top), Brent Nelson and Tracy Michel.

In this episode, we talk about the 50-year history of EROS efforts to preserve the environment and conserve energy. EROS was born in the ’70s, the same decade as Earth Day, the EPA, and the oil crisis. Environmentally conscious decisions implemented by both the EROS Center and the employee association include reclaiming silver from photo processing, using solar panels to heat the water needed for that process, and starting a vanpool.

Guests: Brent Nelson, Information and Management Services Operations Work Manager and contractor for USGS EROS; Tim Smith Information Management Services Archive Task Lead and contractor for USGS EROS; and Tracy Michel, USGS Safety and Occupational Health Specialist


Episode 97 – EROS 50th: Earth As Art

Release date: Monday, July 3, 2023
Logo with colorful satellite image background and three men's mugshots on top
Jon Christopherson (clockwise from left), Pat Scaramuzza and Ron Hayes

Satellites capture an incredible variety of views of Earth. In this episode, we talk with the three engineers at USGS EROS who started the USGS Earth As Art project. The Earth As Art origin story is an example of the initiative and creativity of EROS staff. This stunningly visual product grabs the public’s attention—and then leads to conversations about the value of remote sensing with satellites.

*Be sure to listen to the bonus material—the guests talk about their favorite Earth As Art images.

Guests: Jon Christopherson, Principal System Engineer, contractor for USGS EROS; Ron Hayes, Digital Data Technical Lead, contractor for USGS EROS; Pat Scaramuzza, Senior Scientist, contractor for USGS EROS


Episode 96 – Generational Science

Release date: Tuesday, June 20, 2023
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


Episode 95 – EROS 50th: Landsat Science Team

Release date: Wednesday, June 7, 2023
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