Mission Areas

Earth Resources Observation and Science Center

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The Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center's mission is to document and analyze changes to the Earth’s land areas, across our nation and around the world. To study land change, EROS researchers utilize a vast database of images of the Earth’s surface, including those acquired by Landsat satellites.

Explore EROS

Science at EROS

Science at EROS

EROS scientists use Landsat satellite imagery and other earth-observation data to study land change through time and to assess the impacts of land change regionally, nationally, and globally.

EROS Science

Remote Sensing

Remote Sensing

EROS maintains the largest, continuous, civilian record of the Earth's land areas in the form of satellite images and other types of remotely sensed data that are fundamental to land change research. We acquire thousands of new images every day.

Imagery & More

Find Data

Find Data

Millions of satellite images, aerial photos, and other types of remotely sensed data of the Earth's land areas are available from EROS--easy to search for and download with user-friendly tools. Most are available free of charge.

Data & Tools


Artist concept of Landsat 8
December 15, 2017

The USGS and NASA have selected the scientists and engineers who will serve on the next Landsat Science Team. 

GEOS-13 Image of Hurricane Maria and Tropical Storm Jose
November 20, 2017

Free and rapid imagery was provided through the USGS Hazard Data Distribution System.

Artist concept of Landsat 8
November 15, 2017

Two awardees have been presented with the 2017 William T. Pecora Award for achievements in Earth remote sensing. 

Since 1972, EROS has become synonymous with remotely sensed imagery of the Earth's land areas, cutting-edge research as to how landscapes are changing over time, and analyses of the impacts land change is having on both the planet and its people.

EROS Land Change Research & Applications
Filter Total Items: 6
Pecora 20 content list thumbnail
Date Published: March 22, 2017

The 20th William T. Pecora Memorial Remote Sensing Symposium, with the theme “Observing a Changing Earth: Science for Decisions…Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection,” will be held November 14-16, 2017, in Sioux Falls, SD. The deadline for submitting abstracts and nominations for the William T. Pecora Award is June 1, 2017.

A cabin along Alaska's Arctic coast was recently washed into the ocean because the bluff it was sitting on eroded away.
Date Published: April 15, 2016

Ever-increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases have led to a rise in the Earth’s average surface temperature, which in turn is driving climate change on local, regional, and global scales. At EROS, we are working to better understand the impact of a changing climate on ecological systems, natural resources, coastlines, biogeochemical cycles, and human activities.

Center Pivot Western Geographic
Date Published: April 15, 2016

How do changes in land cover and land use affect agriculture, ecosystems, wildlife, resources, and human communities in the U.S. and around the world? Scientists with the EROS Landscape Dynamics project use satellite imagery and other types of data to answer those and many more questions about land change and its impacts.

Littoral explosion sends incandescent lava fragments skyward at Kīlauea Volcanoʻs ocean entry, Hawaiʻi
Date Published: April 15, 2016

Earthquakes. Famines. Floods. Volcanic eruptions. Sound science is key to assessing, preparing for, and mitigating these and other hazards. EROS provides satellite imagery and other essential remotely sensed data for monitoring drought and wildfire risks, forecasting floods and famines, aiding in disaster relief, and studying threats to human health.

Landsat 8, 2015, Las Vegas
Date Published: April 13, 2016

The Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence is a research and educational collaboration between USGS EROS and South Dakota State University that develops and applies geospatial technologies such as remote sensing, modeling, and geographic information systems to monitor and analyze land change.

EROS scientists work with Afghans on water issues
Date Published: April 13, 2016

In countries around the world, EROS trains scientists, engineers, and land managers in the use of remotely sensed data, and collaborates on projects focused on sustainable development, natural resource management, land cover change, flood monitoring, and early warning systems for drought, famine, and infectious disease.

EROS offers a unique source of satellite imagery and other remotely sensed data of the Earth's land areas. These data are used by scientists, resource managers, urban planners, and many others worldwide to study land change and its impacts on natural systems and human endeavors.

Explore and Access Our Data
Filter Total Items: 2
July 18, 2017


The USGS Global Visualization Viewer (GloVis) is an online search and order tool for selected  is an online search and order tool for selected remote sensing data.  

EAA4, Australia wind power, Landsat 8
April 18, 2016

Find and Access Data at EROS

The EROS data archive contains a vast array of satellite imagery, aerial photos, digitized maps, elevation and land cover products, and much more. Most are easily downloadable via the internet.

Filter Total Items: 1,665
Year Published: 2018

Estimating carbon and showing impacts of drought using satellite data in regression-tree models

Integrating spatially explicit biogeophysical and remotely sensed data into regression-tree models enables the spatial extrapolation of training data over large geographic spaces, allowing a better understanding of broad-scale ecosystem processes. The current study presents annual gross primary production (GPP) and annual ecosystem respiration (RE...

Boyte, Stephen; Wylie, Bruce K.; Howard, Danny; Dahal, Devendra; Gilmanov, Tagir G.
Boyte, S.P., B.K. Wylie, D.M. Howard, D.Dahal, T. Gilmanov. 2018. Estimating carbon and showing impacts of drought using satellite data in regression-tree models. International Journal of Remote Sensing 39:374-398.

Year Published: 2017

U.S. Geological Survey shrub/grass products provide new approach to shrubland monitoring

In the Western United States, shrubland ecosystems provide vital ecological, hydrological, biological, agricultural, and recreational services. However, disturbances such as livestock grazing, exotic species invasion, conversion to agriculture, climate change, urban expansion, and energy development are altering these ecosystems.Improving our...

Young, Steven M.
Young, S.M., 2017, U.S. Geological Survey shrub/grass products provide new approach to shrubland monitoring: U.S. Geological Fact Sheet 2017–3084, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173084.

Year Published: 2017

Radiometric characterization of Landsat Collection 1 products

Landsat data in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) archive are being reprocessed to generate a tiered collection of consistently geolocated and radiometrically calibrated products that are suitable for time series analyses. With the implementation of the collection management, no major updates will be made to calibration of the Landsat sensors...

Micijevic, Esad; Haque, Md. Obaidul; Mishra, Nischal

Year Published: 2017

Examining the value of global seasonal reference evapotranspiration forecasts to support FEWS NET’s food insecurity outlooks

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) team provides food insecurity outlooks for several developing countries in Africa, Central Asia, and Central America. This study describes development of a new global reference evapotranspiration (ETo) seasonal reforecast and skill evaluation with a particular emphasis on the potential use of...

Shukla, Shraddhanand; McEvoy, Daniel; Hobbins, Michael; Husak, Gregory; Huntington, Justin; Funk, Chris; Macharia, Denis; Verdin, James P.
Shukla S., McEvoy D., Hobbins M., Husak G., Huntington, J., Funk C. and Verdin J. (2017) Examining the value of seasonal reference evapotranspiration forecasts to support FEWS NET's food security outlooks,

Year Published: 2017

Historical cover trends in a sagebrush steppe ecosystem from 1985 to 2013: Links with climate, disturbance, and management

Understanding the causes and consequences of component change in sagebrush steppe is crucial for evaluating ecosystem sustainability. The sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe ecosystem of the northwest USA has been impacted by the invasion of exotic grasses, increasing fire return intervals, changing land management practices, and fragmentation...

Shi, Hua; Rigge, Matthew B.; Homer, Collin; Xian, George Z.; Meyer, Debbie; Bunde, Brett

Year Published: 2017

Methods for converting continuous shrubland ecosystem component values to thematic National Land Cover Database classes

The National Land Cover Database (NLCD) provides thematic land cover and land cover change data at 30-meter spatial resolution for the United States. Although the NLCD is considered to be the leading thematic land cover/land use product and overall classification accuracy across the NLCD is high, performance and consistency in the vast shrub and...

Rigge, Matthew B.; Gass, Leila; Homer, Collin G.; Xian, George Z.
Rigge, M.B., Gass, Leila, Homer, C.G., and Xian, G.Z., 2017, Methods for converting continuous shrubland ecosystem component values to thematic National Land Cover Database classes: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017–1119, 10 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20171119.

Year Published: 2017

Productivity and CO2 exchange of Great Plains ecoregions. I. Shortgrass steppe: Flux tower estimates

The shortgrass steppe (SGS) occupies the southwestern part of the Great Plains. Half of the land is cultivated, but significant areas remain under natural vegetation. Despite previous studies of the SGS carbon cycle, not all aspects have been completely addressed, including gross productivity, ecosystem respiration, and ecophysiological parameters...

Gilmanov, Tagir G.; Morgan, Jack A.; Hanan, Niall P.; Wylie, Bruce K.; Rajan, Nithya; Smith, David P.; Howard, Daniel M.

Year Published: 2017

The evolution, approval and implementation of the U.S. Geological Survey Science Data Lifecycle Model

This paper details how the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Community for Data Integration (CDI) Data Management Working Group developed a Science Data Lifecycle Model, and the role the Model plays in shaping agency-wide policies. Starting with an extensive literature review of existing data Lifecycle models, representatives from various...

Faundeen, John L.; Hutchison, Vivian
Faundeen, J.L., Hutchison, V.B., The Evolution, Approval and Implementation of the U.S. Geological Survey Science Data Lifecycle Model, Journal of eScience Librarianship (2017)

Year Published: 2017

Woody vegetation die off and regeneration in response to rainfall variability in the west African Sahel

The greening in the Senegalese Sahel has been linked to an increase in net primary productivity, with significant long-term trends being closely related to the woody strata. This study investigates woody plant growth and mortality within greening areas in the pastoral areas of Senegal, and how these dynamics are linked to species diversity,...

Brandt, Martin; Tappan, G. Gray; Aziz Diouf, Abdoul; Beye, Gora; Mbow, Cheikh; Fensholt, Rasmus
Brandt, M., G. Tappan, A. Diouf, G. Beye, C. Mbow, R. Fensholt, 2017. "Woody Vegetation Die off and Regeneration in Response to Rainfall Variability in the West African Sahel" Remote Sensing, 9, 39; 21 pp

Year Published: 2017

Assessment of forest degradation in Vietnam using Landsat time series data

Landsat time series data were used to characterize forest degradation in Lam Dong Province, Vietnam. We conducted three types of image change analyses using Landsat time series data to characterize the land cover changes. Our analyses concentrated on the timeframe of 1973–2014, with much emphasis on the latter part of that range. We conducted a...

Vogelmann, James; Van Khoa, Phung; Xuan Lan, Do; Shermeyer, Jacob S.; Shi, Hua; Wimberly, Michael C.; Tat Duong, Hoang; Van Huong, Le

Year Published: 2017

Landsat-8 TIRS thermal radiometric calibration status

The Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) instrument is the thermal-band imager on the Landsat-8 platform. The initial onorbit calibration estimates of the two TIRS spectral bands indicated large average radiometric calibration errors, -0.29 and -0.51 W/m2 sr μm or -2.1K and -4.4K at 300K in Bands 10 and 11, respectively, as well as high variability...

Barsi, Julia A.; Markham, Brian L.; Montanaro, Matthew; Gerace, Aaron; Hook, Simon; Schott, John R.; Raqueno, Nina G.; Morfitt, Ron

Year Published: 2017

Statistical relative gain calculation for Landsat 8

The Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) is an optical multispectral push-broom sensor with a focal plane consisting of over 7000 detectors per spectral band. Each of the individual imaging detectors contributes one column of pixels to an image. Any difference in the response between neighboring detectors may result in a visible stripe or band...

Anderson (CTR), Cody; Helder, Dennis; Jeno (CTR), Drake
Anderson, C., Helder, D., Jeno, D., "Statistical relative gain calculation for Landsat 8," Proc. SPIE 10402, (2017) .

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February 13, 2018

This video focuses on how to interpret quality information for Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Surface Reflectance data products created by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). VIIRS is a sensor that flies on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (S-NPP) satellite, which was launched as a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) and NASA in October 2011. S-NPP NASA VIIRS Surface Reflectance data products are distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about VIIRS Surface Reflectance quality information, including how to decode it and where to find additional information, is provided in this video. To learn more about VIIRS Surface Reflectance data, and other data products distributed by the LP DAAC, please visit https://lpdaac.usgs.gov/.

The LP DAAC is one of twelve NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) DAACs. It is located at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The LP DAAC ingests, archives, processes and distributes NASA Earth science land processes data and information.

February 9, 2018

USGS Scientists John Dwyer and Tom Loveland from EROS discuss the major accomplishments of Landsat 8 as it reaches it's 5 year design life. The Landsat program started in 1972, and has a bright future thanks to these extraordinary satellites.

February 8, 2018

The Theewaterskloof Reservoir near Cape Town, South Africa is drying up as a result of a growing population and several dry years. Now at 13% capacity, the shortage could reach a crisis if the rainy season doesn't replenish water supplies.

At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface.

USGS EROS Center (https://eros.usgs.gov/)

February 5, 2018

Martha Anderson with the US Department of Agriculture talks about the value of Landsat and its thermal data in studying agricultural land.

February 1, 2018

February 11 will mark the 5th anniversary of the launch of Landsat 8! 

Since 2013, over 1.1 million scenes have been acquired, adding to the Landsat archive which started almost 45 years ago, and continue to help support studies in agriculture, forest and water quality/use/management, natural disasters, and land change. 

The Landsat Program is a series of Earth-observing satellites co-managed by USGS and NASA, and offers the longest continuous space-based record of Earth’s land in existence. Every day, Landsat satellites orbit Earth and provide essential information to help land managers and policymakers make informed decisions about our natural resources and environment. All Landsat data are distributed by the USGS at no charge from EarthExplorer, GloVis, and the LandsatLook Viewer. To learn more about the Landsat Program please visit https://landsat.usgs.gov/ or follow us on Twitter @USGSLandsat or Facebook @NASA.Landsat.

January 31, 2018

Satellite images of the Hamrin Mountains in Iraq show burning oil wells. As ISIS is driven from the area, they are setting these wells on fire.

At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface.

USGS EROS Center (https://eros.usgs.gov/)

January 30, 2018

Leif Olmanson from the University of Minnesota talks about the value of Landsat data in monitoring the thousands of lakes in Minnesota.

South African reservoirs, Western Cape Region, Landsat 2014
2018 (approx.)

Water levels in large reservoirs in South Africa’s Western Cape province have been impacted by persistent drought in recent years. This Landsat 2014 image shows the Theewaterskloof reservoir, the largest in the province’s water supply system. In subsequent years, water levels have dropped significantly as seasonal rains have repeatedly failed.

January 19, 2018

Barbara Ryan, Director of GEO talks about the distribution of Landsat data, starting in 1972, and ultimately transitioning to the free and open policy of today.

January 17, 2018

Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier has calved another iceberg. These Landsat images show the progression since just before the break in September until now.

At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface.

USGS EROS Center (https://eros.usgs.gov/)

January 16, 2018

Mike Wulder with Canada's Forest Service talks about the value Landsat images have for mapping and monitoring Canada's forested areas.

Satellite image showing the reservoir depletion.
January 14, 2018

A three-year drought is threatening to cause city officials in Cape Town, South Africa, to shut off the tap water. The growing city of nearly 4 million relies mostly on reservoirs for its water supply. While drought is part of the cause of the current crisis, an increasing population is also straining water resources.

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Artist concept of Landsat 8
December 15, 2017

The USGS and NASA have selected the scientists and engineers who will serve on the next Landsat Science Team. 

GEOS-13 Image of Hurricane Maria and Tropical Storm Jose
November 20, 2017

Free and rapid imagery was provided through the USGS Hazard Data Distribution System.

Landsat Analysis Ready Data
November 8, 2017

Improvements to the quality and usability of Landsat satellite data have been made with the release of a new USGS product called Landsat Analysis Ready Data (ARD). 

Artist concept of Landsat 8
November 8, 2017

Monitoring our changing planet is critical to supporting a world population expected to reach eight billion by 2025. Observing the Earth from space offers unprecedented levels of data and a holistic view, which enables scientists to detect the most critical trends in natural resource conditions at local and global scales.

Satellite image showing the Las Vegas, Lake Mead, Grand Canyon area
July 20, 2017

Resourcesat data that are important for understanding changes associated with agriculture, forestry, phenology, and other applications are now available in the USGS archive.

Satellite imagery which appears to be a cubist art painting.
March 27, 2017

Earth as Art, a U.S. Geological Survey traveling exhibit that merges art with dramatic Landsat imagery of the earth’s surface, is coming to Bismarck for the month of April. This display is free and open to the public.

Image shows a satellite view of forests in Cambodia.
March 24, 2017

In this week's Landsat view, Landsat 5 and Landsat 8 show how significant Cambodia's deforestation has been in the last few decades.

Illustration of Landsat 7 in orbit
March 24, 2017

Access to consistent high-quality images to study changes on Earth’s surface is getting easier. The USGS Landsat standard (Level-1) product inventory is now structured by data quality and offers improved calibration. Data designated as Tier 1 provide the highest accuracy and can be reliably used to analyze changes to Earth’s surface over time.