Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Landsat Update June 2021

June 21, 2021

Landsat Updates are prepared periodically and distributed electronically to provide information about Landsat activities and related topics of interest.

Subscribe to receive future Landsat Updates in your email

Return to all Landsat Updates

In this issue…

  • U.S. Space Force Exhibits New Launch Capabilities with Landsat 9
  • “Ladies of Landsat” Take on Twitter
  • Landsat Collection 2 Spectral Indices
  • LandsatLook Redesign
  • Landsat Ground Station Operators Working Group 49 (LGSOWG #49) 
  • Upcoming Meetings and User Conferences 
  • Landsat Mission News
    • Landsat 9 Status
    • Landsat Collection 1 Forward Processing to Cease at the End of 2021
    • Landsat ‘Gold Standard’ Continuing Legacy
  • Landsat in the News 
  • Connect/Interact/Contact 


U.S. Space Force Exhibits New Launch Capabilities with Landsat 9

Landsat 9 launches this September on an Atlas V 401 rocket. The launch will see new technology advancements demonstrated by the capabilities of a U.S. Space Force tool that allows smaller satellites to piggy-back on with the Landsat payload.

Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) Flight System (EFS)
U.S. Space Force-developed ESPA Flight System (EFS) image for the NASA Landsat-9 satellite (Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center). 

The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) Flight System (EFS) sits under Landsat 9 in the fairing of the rocket and provides the capability of deploying an additional 18 smaller instruments. The ESPA ring capability is an innovation that allows for a larger number of payloads to distribute than earlier tech allowed. Previous designs only allowed for up to six additional spacecrafts.

On January 4, 2021 the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) completed its final design review of the Landsat 9 EFS. The design is ready for implementation with the systems and there is a “Do No Harm” to the primary payload, which protects the primary mission of Landsat 9 with the EFS. 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is responsible for building and launching Landsat 9, while the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is responsible for the ground system. The USGS and Earth Resources Observation Science (EROS) Center do not have a direct role in decisions related to the ESPA ring, but EROS New Missions Branch Chief Joe Blahovec was aware of the discussions and was pleased to learn that Landsat 9 serves to aid the military’s newest branch. “The ESPA ring is not new, but the new thing is the larger number of satellites that can be put on,” Blahovec said. “We’re providing the opportunity for the Space Force to demonstrate their capability.” 

More information on the status of the Landsat 9 is available from the Landsat 9 Missions web page, as well as the Landsat Mission Headlines web page, or subscribe via the Landsat RSS feed


“Ladies of Landsat” Take on Twitter 

During a 2018 Landsat Science Team meeting, Dr. Kate Fickas, an aquatic biologist at the Utah Division of Water Quality, created the Ladies of Landsat Twitter page. The group developed as a place of community to support and amplify women and under-represented groups in remote sensing and STEM. It continues to do so and serves as a place for networking, collaboration, mentoring, and barrier breaking. “A community like Ladies of Landsat helps women find their voices to change the status quo. We tend to do this through both the bottom up amplification and representation of female voices, and then calling for action from the top down. So, asking those in power, what we call our active allies, to change the landscape.” 

Ladies of Landsat has grown to over 5,000 followers on Twitter. The group has a weekly series highlighting research by people in remote sensing, they also have Manuscript Mondays, and hold in-person and virtual networking events and conference symposiums. With all this, there is a hope that this grass roots effort will increase visibility, voices, and representations for women and minorities in STEM. 

The group is open to all looking for networking, support, and resources. During an interview with Jane Lawson of EROS, Fickas said “We’re informal in the sense that we don’t have a formal membership. If you like us on Twitter, you’re in. And if you want to be a Lady of Landsat, you’re in. Regardless of any gender. At a Landsat Science Team meeting my male advisor introduced himself and shouted, ‘I’m a Lady of Landsat!’ This informality of the group has allowed us to be dynamic and flexible with who’s involved. And really create a place where the whole thing is a passion project.”

To listen to the Eyes on the Earth podcast of the interview with Dr. Fickas follow this link:

To follow Ladies of Landsat on Twitter @LadiesOfLandsat, 


Landsat Collection 2 Spectral Indices

In summer of 2021, the following Landsat Collection 2 Surface Reflectance-derived Spectral Indices will be available through the EROS Science Processing Architecture (ESPA) On Demand Interface:

  • Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)
  • Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI)
  • Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index (SAVI)
  • Modified Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index (MSAVI)
  • Normalized Difference Moisture Index (NDMI)
  • Normalized Burn Ratio (NBR)
  • Normalized Burn Ratio 2 (NBR2)

Details about each index listed above are available on

In the upcoming release, ESPA will also allow users to request customized Landsat Collection 2 data. This includes the ability to specify file format options, change reprojection and resampling, and request spatial sub-setting, statistics, and plots.


LandsatLook Redesign

The completely redesigned LandsatLook viewer is here. “LandsatLook 2.0” displays Landsat Collection 2 Level-2 Surface Reflectance (SR) images and allows users to download Collection 2 SR or Surface Temperature (ST) data. The viewer includes new features such as visualizing images with different band combinations, band subsetting, and the ability to create time lapse animated gifs. Landsat Collection 1 and Sentinel 2 will remain available from their respective viewers.


Landsat Ground Station Operators Working Group 49 (LGSOWG #49) 

The USGS recently hosted the 49th Landsat Ground Station Operators Working Group (LGSOWG) meeting virtually over a two-week period. Attendees heard from the USGS on current Landsat satellite missions and on Landsat 9 status and ground station preparation, particularly relevant considering the upcoming September 2021 launch. Reports on ground station activities and several collaborative discussions on interoperability, cloud architecture and environments, and near real-time implementations and applications also took place. 

Since the launch of the first Landsat satellite in 1972, working collaboratively with other nations in downlinking and distributing Landsat imagery has played a critical role in shaping the scientific, technical, operational, and user benefits derived from Landsat missions. Currently, there are sixteen active Landsat international ground stations receiving Landsat 8 data and eleven active Landsat international ground stations receiving Landsat 7 data. 

For more information visit: Landsat International Cooperators

View Video: What it means to be an International Cooperator

Landsat 8 Surface Reflectance image off the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland
Landsat Featured Image: Landsat 8 Surface Reflectance image of Coast of Newfoundland acquired on 16 February 2021, Path 5, Row 23. False color - Bands 6, 5, 4 

Upcoming Meetings and User Conferences 

Save the Date! Announcement for the 2nd National Imagery Summit Landsat and Society

Landsat Mission News 

Landsat 9 Status

Landsat 9 is on schedule to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California in September 2021. Recently engineers put components of the satellite to the test. The spacecraft bus and science instruments, the Operational Land Imager 2 (OLI-2), and the Thermal Infrared Sensor 2 (TIRS-2) were all tested individually before integration in Arizona. All components, connected and in place, endured a series of tests that emulated the harshest of environments, similar to what the spacecraft will experience outside of Earth’s protective atmosphere.

For more information on these test visit

For more information about the Landsat 9 mission visit the Landsat 9 webpage


Landsat Collection 1 Forward Processing to Cease at the End of 2021

Landsat Collection 1 based forward processing will remain in effect through December 31, 2021, concurrent with Landsat Collection 2 based forward processing. Starting January 1, 2022, all new Landsat acquisitions will be processed into the Collection 2 inventory structure only.  

Users are encouraged to migrate their workflow to Landsat Collection 2 at their earliest convenience. Due to advancements in data processing and algorithm development, users are discouraged from using Collection 1 and Collection 2 interchangeably within the same workflow.  

Collection 1 products will remain available for search and download while the USGS evaluates a formal deprecation schedule.


Landsat ‘Gold Standard’ Continuing Legacy

A new report outlining why Landsat data are recognized as the standard for radiometric and geometric calibration was recently released by the Landsat Advisory Group of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Land Imaging Program requested the report to describe to a general audience the benefits of Landsat’s Earth observations. The report explains how satellite images are calibrated for location and color with a variety of visual examples. It spotlights the usefulness of products that help monitor and interpret land cover change over time, such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index.

The accuracy of Landsat’s calibration gives other civil and commercial satellite data a trusted “gold standard” reference point, the report explains. It also points out the importance of Landsat’s unparalleled continuity for nearly 50 years and its consistent calibration throughout.

The Landsat Advisory Group that developed the report included members from Maxar Technologies, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the National Geographic Society, Roberta E. Lenczowski Consulting, Planet, and St. Louis University Geospatial Institute. The National Geospatial Advisory Committee is a Federal advisory committee sponsored by the Department of the Interior.


Recent Popular Social Media 

Recent images of popular Landsat social media posts
Left: Facebook post from 18 February 2021. Right: Instagram post from 11 March 2021

Landsat in the News 

Drone and Landsat Change in Vegetation 

Landsat Sentinel data fusion 

Sea level rise is killing trees along the Atlantic coast, creating ‘ghost forests’ that are visible from space 

A boom in satellite technology is revolutionizing the way we see the Earth



Landsat Missions: 

Landsat Headlines:

Landsat Updates: 

Subscribe to receive future Landsat Updates in your email!


USGS Landsat: @USGSLandsat 
NASA Landsat: @NASA_Landsat


USGS Landsat: @USGSLandsatProgram 
NASA Landsat: @NASA_Landsat

USGS Landsat: @USGSLandsat

Landsat RSS Feeds:

USGS EROS Customer Services: Email: Phone: 1-800-252-4547 


Download .pdf version