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International Partnership

Since inception, the Landsat program has been an important component of U.S. foreign policy and science and technology strategies. Fifty years on, international collaboration and cooperation remain a bedrock value for the USGS and its remote sensing partners around the world.

Color photo of Landsat International Ground Station (IGS) Network members posing in group
Scientists, engineers and program managers representing 11 of the countries within the Landsat International Ground Station (IGS) Network pose for a photo near a display designed to honor the role of International Cooperators in the Landsat mission. The permanent display was installed in the lobby of the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center near Sioux Falls, SD in advance of a 2019 meeting of the Landsat Technical Working Group.

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.

Landsat Global Archive Consolidation

Landsat Global Archive Consolidation WRS 1 Scenes
Landsat Global Archive Consolidation WRS 1 Scenes. Visit the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation page for more details. 

Much of the data held internationally are unique, relative to each station's area of coverage and were not duplicated in the USGS archive.

In 2010, the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation (LGAC) effort began, with a goal to consolidate the Landsat data archives of all international ground stations, make the data more accessible to the global Landsat community, and significantly increase the frequency of observations over a given area of interest to improve scientific uses such as change detection and analysis.

Bringing Landsat data from many collection stations worldwide to one archive includes several challenges:

  • Various data formats and processing methods
  • Unknown data formats and processing methods (stations no longer active)
  • Media storage age and conditions
  • Various or obsolete technologies used to ingest data
Landsat Global Archive Consolidation WRS 2 Scenes
Landsat Global Archive Consolidation WRS 2 Scenes. Visit the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation page for more details. 

While every technology asset available will be explored, some data unfortunately may be irrecoverable.

As this effort to systematically acquire, reconcile, and ingest all recoverable foreign data continues, all data successfully ingested into the USGS Landsat archive become available on EarthExplorerGloVis, and the LandsatLook Viewer.  

The maps below display Landsat scenes received from International Ground Stations. The WRS-2 map displays Landsat 7 ETM+, Landsat 4-5 TM, and Landsat 4-5 MSS data received. The WRS-1 map displays Landsat 1-3 MSS data received.