Since inception, the Landsat program has been an important component of U.S. foreign policy and science and technology strategies.
The program’s longstanding network of International Cooperators (ICs), which operate numerous International Ground Stations (IGSs) around the world, embodies the U.S.’s policy of peaceful use of outer space and the worldwide dissemination of civil space technology to improve societal decision-making from national governments to local citizens. Currently there are 18 actively operating IGSs spanning 12 countries around the world, each providing essential dimension to the joint USGS and NASA agency Landsat mission. The reception capabilities of each station augment data collection capacity of the Landsat system, above and beyond that provided by the satellite on-board recorders and the Landsat Ground Network (LGN).
The historical Landsat data downlinked to the IGSs are currently being added to the USGS Landsat archive by way of the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation (LGAC) initiative. For Landsat 8 (and eventually Landsat 9), all data downlinked to IGSs are also written to the satellite on-board recorder and downlinked to the LGN for inclusion in the USGS Landsat archive. Therefore, during nominal Landsat mission operations no unique data are held at the IGSs. However, the Landsat IGSs provide contingency data collection capacity to the LGN in the event of a spacecraft anomaly or malfunction. Additionally, the expertise of ICs in applying Landsat data to local and regional user needs can facilitate further USGS scientific and application development for Landsat data in the U.S. and worldwide.
The USGS meets with the Landsat ICs twice per year to discuss operational management and technical matters through the Landsat Ground Station Operators Working Group (LGSOWG) and Landsat Technical Working Group (LTWG) meetings. These meetings are an essential forum for global Landsat cooperation and collaboration.
To learn more about the USGS Landsat IC Network please visit this interactive online interface. Organizations interested in pursuing direct access to Landsat 8 and/or Landsat 9 via data downlink should visit the Benefits of Becoming an IC page for more information.