10th Anniversary of Landsat's Free & Open Data Policy

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Detailed Description

Leaders in the field of remote sensing discuss working with Landsat data since it began in 1972. With the change to a free and open policy 10 years ago, new and exciting possibilities have opened up.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:03:10

Location Taken: Sioux Falls, SD, US

Video Credits

Producer: Steve Young


JOHN SCHOTT: When I first
started working Landsat,

you got film transparencies,
so it wasn't digital data.

It was digital here, but the
world couldn't handle digital

data so, the first thing we
did when we downlinked the

digital data was write it
back to analog and

distribute film.

data storage was tiny and

we couldn't process a lot of
imagery so we were kind of

working on individual scenes.
And we were also paying a

lot of money per scene and
you had to have funding

to support this.

JOHN: A graduate student's
career was often one

Landsat image, they spent
their whole career on that 

one Landsat image.

university we had 4 or 5

images that we owned ourselves.
If we had an image we had to

keep using that same image in
our classes or for this purpose

or that purpose over and
over again.

was restricted to the data

that an individual could
afford, rather than the

imagery that were really
needed to solve a problem.

The methods, the approaches
we used and the size of the

problems we were trying to
solve were restricted in time,

in space, and in

both in NASA and the USGS

dating back to 1972 when the
first satellite went up, really

at that time felt that the data
aught to be broadly and

openly available.

TOM: The big push to make
Landsat data free came from

Barb Ryan. She began to realize
the potential that it could have

on impacting Landsat use
around the world.

So she became the force to
make that happen.

BARBARA: Obviously the
internet came into being

and so instead of sending
out scenes on physical tapes

all of the sudden you could
distribute data over the web.

KASS GREEN: Ever since that
happened, to see the

explosion in the use of Landsat
has been amazing, especially

the multi-temporal applications.
The things that we can do

with multi-temporal.

TOM: We've had this interesting
convergence of analytical

capabilities, computing capabilities,
better imagination, and of course

all surrounded by serious
problems that need to be solved.

I think we're poised to really
start a more real-time focus

on understanding the
condition of the earth.

JOHN: We can now look at the
world. Before we said we could

look at the world, but the
reality was it was locked

away in an archive and we
didn't have access to it.

So I think that clearly is a 
huge change.

BARBARA: The policy was a
paradigm shift for the world.

There's no doubt about it.

KASS: I think Landsat's
healthier now as a program

than it's ever been, and that
is because it's so widely used.

JOHN: The archive is just
going to continue to yield

good information, good science,
better management, reduce

costs. The biggest contribution
of Landsat will be that archive.