What It Means to be an International Cooperator (AD version)

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This video gives an overview of what it mean to be an International Cooperator, including information on what is an International Cooperator, who represents the International Cooperator community, what are the benefits of being an International Cooperator, and what does it mean to be an International Cooperator.

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Length: 00:08:10

Location Taken: US

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What it Means to be an International Cooperator

In 1972, the very first Landsat satellite was launched, marking the beginning of a new era. Over 47 years later, the Landsat mission remains a cornerstone in Earth observation, representing the longest continuously acquired space-based, moderate-resolution data archive.

From the very beginning, it was understood that a strong Landsat mission would only be possible with international collaboration and support. Thus, it was determined that an International Cooperator network should be established.

That same year, 1972, the very first International Cooperator joined the Landsat International Ground Station network. After 47 years, International Cooperators continue to play a critical role in the Landsat mission.

What is an International Cooperator?

An International Cooperator is an international government organization with which the U.S. Geological Survey enters into a formal agreement for the direct reception of Landsat data.

With an agreement in place, International Cooperators, also known as ICs, serve their user community by providing direct access to Landsat data in real-time.

Who represents the International Cooperator community?

Space agencies, remote sensing organizations, national disaster response managers, and geo-information agencies, just to name a few.

What are the Benefits of Being an International Cooperator?

For starters, ICs receive a direct downlink of data from the Landsat spacecraft. This allows an IC to quickly respond to any emergency data needs and best serve that IC’s user community.

Additionally, direct IC data reception eliminates the potential gap in regional Landsat coverage in the event of full or partial onboard recorder failure.

Another benefit can be found in data product generation. By receiving the raw data from the spacecraft,   ICs can process the data to any processing recipe or level,  allowing them to best serve their users. On an annual basis, ICs can also have their products validated by the USGS.

Furthermore, ICs can access technical documentation, algorithms, calibration information, and ground system software source code. As such, there is ready access to implement Landsat processing capabilities individually or through a chosen vendor.

Additionally, ICs have access to a network of individuals with Landsat expertise from both the USGS and the participating ICs via the Landsat Ground Station Operators Working Group and Landsat Technical Working Group meetings. Beyond staying current with the existing Landsat operations and new mission development, these meetings form a critical venue for IC input and influence into future USGS and Landsat planning.

Participating in the IC community also gives ICs opportunities to engage with the US Geological Survey and other ICs on special technical and scientific collaboration opportunities. ICs have collaborated on topics such as analysis ready data, cloud and data cube architectures, multi-sensor and real-time data applications, and so much more.

What does it mean to be an International Cooperator?

So, for us, it’s a huge collaborative opportunity in terms of looking at new areas of applications for Landsat data, and as well as to develop new software, ground segment software. We just been able to develop a new ground processing software for Landsat 8 with assistance of USGS. So, that’s a huge milestone for us as a new space agency. And as well as the opportunity to be able to identify new areas of collaboration. While the issues at the moment, on Analysis Ready Data, where we’re looking at new data structures. So USGS has been leading that initiative, and we have been learning a lot from them. The other partners who are in the network, such as Australia, they are looking at the data cube. They’ve got Digital Earth Australia now. So, in Africa, we are looking at Digital Earth Africa. And South Africa has got an initiative on developing a new data cube. So from these various partners who participate in this Landsat network, it enables us to be able to leverage from each other and to be able to advance our goals in Earth observation.

International Cooperators give us a chance to increase our capability, for preventing disaster. We need as much data from the satellite or other things. So, if we work without International Cooperators, that means we try to connect individually one by one. But International Cooperator Network, that group give the more easy chance to connect to the others, even if it's the Landsat, or the other European, or the Asian agencies. So, International Cooperators give a good chance to NDMI.

It’s a long heritage of supporting Landsat. Landsat 7 was the first operational satellite that was supported out of the Svalbard station. And we have been supporting Landsat since, ever since and until today. So, it’s a strong relationship between KSAT and Norway and US and USGS. So, it’s a long heritage and it’s a, feels good to be a part of something globally important, you know. Providing data to the benefit of everyone actually.

To be an International Ground Station Operator, to GA, we see that as a very big deal in terms of our ability to collaborate, participate on a global level for Earth observation. Participation, remote sensing best practices, sharing knowledge, sharing information and from a ground station perspective of our work in terms of the daily support of Landsat missions, and getting the benefits of those imagery, feeding into our systems, like Digital Earth Australia.

The Landsat mission would not be what it is today without the support of our International Cooperators, and that support has come in ways that the early pioneers might not have ever imagined. The role of an IC has changed over the years from one of primarily operational interaction to one that also contributes technically, scientifically, and collaboratively. One constant, however, has been the shared vision of using Landsat data to better understand our planet, and it is this common vision that will ensure a continued fruitful relationship well into the future.