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Imagery for Everyone

Timeline Set to Release Entire USGS Landsat Archive at No Charge

(Published April 2008)

The USGS Landsat archive is an unequaled 35-year record of the Earth’s surface that is valuable for a broad range of uses, ranging from climate change science to forest management to emergency response, plus countless other user applications.  Under a transition toward a National Land Imaging Program sponsored by the Secretary of the Interior, the USGS is pursuing an aggressive schedule to provide users with electronic access to any Landsat scene held in the USGS-managed national archive of global scenes dating back to Landsat 1, launched in 1972.  By February 2009, any archive scene selected by a user – with no restriction on cloud cover – will be processed automatically to a standard product recipe, using such parameters as the Universe Transverse Mercator projection, and staged for electronic retrieval.  In addition, newly acquired scenes meeting a cloud cover threshold of 20% or below will be processed to the standard recipe and placed on line for at least three months, after which they will remain available for selection from the archive. 

Newly acquired, minimally cloudy Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) data covering North America and Africa are already being distributed by the USGS over the Internet at no charge, with expansion to full global coverage of incoming Landsat 7 data to be completed by July 2008 (see timeline below).  The full archive of historical Landsat 7 ETM+ data acquired by the USGS since launch in 1999 will become available for selection and downloading by the end of September 2008.  At that time, all Landsat 7 data purchasing options from the USGS, wherein users pay for on-demand processing to various parameters will be discontinued.   
By the end of December of 2008, both incoming Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) data and all Landsat 5 TM data acquired by the USGS since launch (1984) will become available, with all Landsat 4 TM (1982-1985) and Landsat 1-5 Multi-Spectral Scanner (MSS) (1972-1994) data becoming available by the end of January 2009.  All Landsat data purchasing options from the USGS will be discontinued by February 2009, once the entire Landsat archive can be accessed at no charge.  

Landsat scenes can be previewed and downloaded using the USGS Global Visualization Viewer at [under “Select Collection” choose Landsat archive: L7 SLC-off (2003-present)].  Scenes can also be selected using the USGS Earth Explorer tool at  For further information on Landsat satellites and products, see