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Landsat 9 mission updates and ground station preparation are among the major topics on the agenda for the scientists and engineers from 11 counties visiting Sioux Falls, SD this week for the annual meeting of the Landsat Technical Working Group (LTWG).

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. (Public domain.)

LTWG meetings offer Landsat’s International Cooperators (ICs) a chance to connect with their counterparts from around the world, share input and feedback on data management and processing, and to hear about upcoming projects related to the Landsat mission.

The Landsat International Ground Station (IGS) Network plays a key role in the operational strength of the joint NASA/USGS Landsat program. The data collected by Landsat program since its inception in 1972 represent the planet’s longest continuously-collected record of moderate resolution Earth surface imagery.

On Tuesday, the LTWG group visited the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center for a tour that began with the unveiling of a new permanent lobby display designed to honor their commitment to the mission’s success.

The interactive display highlights each Landsat IGS Network location through Landsat imagery, aerial and on-the-ground photos, and information about the agencies that operate them.

Standing beneath flags from the participant nations that had been hung overhead to mark the occasion, Landsat IGS Network Manager Steve Labahn told the visitors their cooperation is symbolic of the United States’ commitment to the peaceful sharing of low-Earth orbit in the interest of science.

“From inception, the Landsat missions have been an important component of U.S. foreign policy, as well as science and technology policy,” Labahn said. “In foreign affairs, the program’s long-standing network of International Cooperators – who operate 20 ground stations in 14 countries – really embodies this policy of the peaceful use of outer space and worldwide dissemination of civil space technology for public benefit.”

The ICs also offer technical support and assistance to the Landsat program, which Labahn said has helped maintain a “gold standard” of highly calibrated, reliable Earth surface imagery. ICs also offer guidance and expertise to local users, which aids in the development of locally focused remote sensing applications.

“Thank you for being part of the Landsat family for all these years,” Labahn said.

The LTWG meeting, the first to take place in Sioux Falls since 2012, will continue through Friday at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. ICs participate in LTWG and Landsat Ground Station Operators Working Group (LGSOWG) meetings annually to stay current on and offer input on mission status and development.

The IC display will be a permanent fixture at EROS, offering the Center’s frequent visitors a chance to learn more about the network of partners who contribute to the Landsat program.

To learn more about current and historical International Ground Stations, click this link.




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