Mission Areas

Land Remote Sensing Program

Programs L2 Landing Page

Our Nation’s economic security and environmental vitality rely on continuous monitoring of the Earth’s continents, islands, and coastal regions in order to record, study, and understand land change at local, regional, and global scales. The USGS Land Remote Sensing (LRS) Program helps meet this need.

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LRS and Remote Sensing

LRS and Remote Sensing

LRS works to provide continuous and easy access to remotely sensed land data, acquire regional and global land datasets from multiple sources, and define and develop future satellite missions to enhance the study of land change and its impacts.

Remote Sensing News

Featured Science

Featured Science

How are Landsat images and other remotely sensed data helping scientists understand land change and its implications? Check out our Featured Science articles for important news and key updates.

Science in Action

More to Explore

Follow these links to learn more about our remote sensing research partnerships, how to access and download data, our image collections, news articles, and more.

Requirements Capabilities & Analysis for Earth Observations

Find and Download Data

Image Collections

Newsroom

Pecora Award

News

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.

Illustration of Landsat 7 in orbit
February 27, 2017

On Tuesday, February 7, Landsat 7’s Flight Operations Team fired the spacecraft’s 1-pound thrusters for about 13 minutes. After a pause of about 7½ hours, the thrusters fired a second time for about 13 minutes.This was the last such maneuver for Landsat 7 and the beginning of the end for the satellite, which has provided images of the earth’s changing resources for more than 17 years. 

USGS logo
October 31, 2016

Working together to advance international coordination of Earth observation programs

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Raw imagery from the Falcon using a sony ILCE-5100 sensor.
April 13, 2016

The USGS National UAS Project Office supports the safe, efficient, and cost-effective adoption of UAS technology into the research and operational activities of the DOI.

Pecora Brochure for nominations
March 15, 2016

The William T. Pecora Award is presented annually to individuals or groups that have made outstanding contributions toward understanding the Earth by means of remote sensing. Nominations for the 2016 award must be received by June 10, 2016.

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USGS logo
July 18, 2017

GloVis

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.  

USGS logo
April 27, 2016

EarthExplorer

Query and order satellite images, aerial photographs, and cartographic products through the U.S. Geological Survey.

USGS logo
April 27, 2016

EarthNow!

EarthNow! displays data received from the Landsat 7 satellite. When a Landsat satellite passes within range of the ground station at the USGS Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS), image data are downlinked and displayed in near-real time. When no satellites are within range, the most recent pass is displayed.

USGS logo
April 27, 2016

LandsatLook Viewer

The USGS LandsatLook Viewer allows comprehensive searching and downloading of full-resolution LandsatLook images, along with access to Level 1 Data Products.

USGS logo
April 27, 2016

Emergency Operations Portal

Explore critical pre- and post-disaster images and datasets online for immediate viewing and downloading. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Emergency Operations, in support of the Department of Homeland Security, provides these images for use in disaster preparations, rescue and relief operations, damage assessments, and reconstruction efforts.

Death Valley, Landsat 8
April 20, 2016

Find and Access Remotely Sensed Data

This link takes you to the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center remotely sensed land data archive, which contains millions of satellite images, as well as aerial photos, digitized maps, elevation and land cover products, and much more. Most are easily downloadable via the internet.

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Digital Elevation Model in the Atchafalaya Basin, LA
March 14, 2016

Explore our extensive collection of digitized maps and elevation products.

SLR graphic
March 12, 2016

With the National Map viewer, you have access to geospatial data and tools, web mapping services, and application services for orthoimagery, elevation, and land cover data.

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Year Published: 2014

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) activities at the Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is responsible for protecting and managing the natural resources and heritage on almost 20% of the land in the United States. The DOI’s mission requires access to remotely sensed data over vast lands, including areas that are remote and potentially dangerous to access. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS...

Quirk, Bruce K.; Hutt, Michael E.

Year Published: 2014

National requirements for improved elevation data

This report presents the results of surveys, structured interviews, and workshops conducted to identify key national requirements for improved elevation data for the United States and its territories, including coastlines. Organizations also identified and reported the expected economic benefits that would be realized if their requirements for...

Snyder, Gregory I.; Sugarbaker, Larry J.; Jason, Allyson L.; Maune, David F.
National requirements for improved elevation data; 2014; OFR; 2013-1237; Snyder, Gregory I.; Sugarbaker, Larry J.; Jason, Allyson L.; Maune, David F.

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2017 (approx.)

This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Thermal Anomalies and Fire data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC).  Information about the MODIS Version 6 Thermal Anomalies and Fire data products, the thematic fire mask classes, and using a color map to visualize fires will be provided in this video. The video will also cover how to find Thermal Anomalies and Fire resources on the LP DAAC website. To learn more about on MODIS Version 6 Thermal Anomalies and Fire 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.

2017 (approx.)

This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Thermal Anomalies and Fire data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC).  Information about the MODIS Version 6 Thermal Anomalies and Fire data products, changes between the Version 5 and Version 6 products, and how to access the data using NASA’s Earthdata Search is provided. To learn more about MODIS Version 6 Thermal Anomalies and Fire 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.

2017 (approx.)

This video focuses on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Version 6 Thermal Anomalies and Fire data distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about MODIS Thermal Anomalies and Fire quality information, including how to decode quality bits, tools for working with quality data, and where to find additional information, will be provided.  To learn more about MODIS Version 6 Thermal Anomalies and Fire 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.

2017 (approx.)

Landsat Collections: Providing a Stable Environmental Record for Time Series Analysis

This video introduces the new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Landsat Collection 1 inventory structure. Collection 1 required the reprocessing of all archived Landsat data to achieve radiometric and geometric consistency of Level-1 products through time and across all Landsat sensors. This video explains why Collection 1 is the highest quality inventory of Landsat Level-1 products ever created. To learn more about Landsat Collections please visit https://landsat.usgs.gov/landsat-collections.

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 NEXT 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.

2017 (approx.)

Getting Started with VIIRS Surface Reflectance Data Part 2: Using the Data
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This video focuses on how to use 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. NASA VIIRS Surface Reflectance data products are distributed by NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). Information about the definition of “Surface Reflectance”, the types of NASA VIIRS Surface Reflectance data products, and how to apply a scale factor when preparing the data for use will be provided in this video. The video will also explore various surface reflectance band combinations that are beneficial for a variety of science applications as well as where to find resources about processing NASA VIIRS surface reflectance data on the LP DAAC’s website. To learn more about on 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. 

Satellite comparisons of the Batagaika crater
2017 (approx.)

An increasingly large gash has opened up in northern Russia's Siberian tundra. During the past few decades, warmer summers and shorter winters have caused permafrost in this region to thaw, which then allows the warmed soils on slopes to slump and erode.

Dozens of the resultant channels and craters are spread across Siberia, but the biggest is Batagaika Crater, about 10 kilometers southeast of the town of Batagay. The Landsat image series shows the initial gash widening from a narrow channel in 1991 to a crater with steep-sided cliffs by 2017, at a resolution of 30 meters. Sentinel-2A's 10-meter resolution in the natural color bands provides a more detailed look at the crater.

2017 (approx.)

Getting Started with VIIRS Surface Reflectance Data Part 1: All About Accessing Data
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This video focuses on Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) surface reflectance data products created by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and distributed by the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC). 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. Information about characteristics of the S-NPP VIIRS satellite sensor and the NASA VIIRS Surface Reflectance data products, as well as how to access the data using NASA’s Earthdata Search is provided. To learn more about NASA 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. 

July 27, 2017
  • Glacier Numerology – The how big, how long, how thick, how much, how often, of glacier science.
  • Glacier Photography – While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a collection of images may tell a complete forensic story.
  • Glacier Geophysics – How new technologies are being introduced to reexamine and refine decades old glacier analyses.
Satellite image showing the Larsen C iceberg.
July 12, 2017

Around July 10–12, 2017, in the middle of the long, dark Antarctic winter, a rift in the Larsen C Ice Shelf broke through the last few miles of ice to the Weddell Sea and formed a new iceberg. The NOAA National Ice Center has given the Delaware-sized iceberg the designation A-68. Even in the darkness, Earth-observing satellites are monitoring this new iceberg with infrared imaging.

2017 (approx.)

Landsat Collections: Providing a Stable Environment Record for Time Series Analysis

This is the second of a three-part video series describing the new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Landsat Collection 1 inventory structure. Collection 1 required the reprocessing of all archived Landsat data to achieve radiometric and geometric consistency of Level-1 products through time and across all Landsat sensors. This video specifically explains the radial root mean square error (RMSE), and how it is used to define the spatial accuracy of a Landsat scene, and whether it is organized into Tier 1 or Tier 2 of the Landsat Collection 1 inventory structure. To learn more about Landsat Collections please visit https://landsat.usgs.gov/landsat-collections.

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 NEXT 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.

Satellite images showing landsat 7 and landsat 8 fire images on the western U.S.
2017 (approx.)

On an average day during the fire season, multiple wildfires burn in the western United States. For example, 216 fires were active on July 7, 2017. Firefighters were battling 27 of these fires through ground and air support.

A few of the larger fires in early July were in Arizona, Washington, and Utah. As with many wildfires, Landsat plays an important role in monitoring the spread of these fires and is the primary data source for mapping burn severity after the fires are contained.

Satellite image showing a picture of northeastern Alaska.
June 27, 2017

The Landsat archive, the world's longest continuously acquired collection of space-based, moderate-resolution land remote sensing data, has now surpassed 7 million scenes since Landsat 1 first began collecting data in July 1972. This Landsat 8 image acquired on June 27, 2017, represents one of those millions of scenes to be added to the archive.

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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.

Illustration of Landsat 7 in orbit
February 27, 2017

On Tuesday, February 7, Landsat 7’s Flight Operations Team fired the spacecraft’s 1-pound thrusters for about 13 minutes. After a pause of about 7½ hours, the thrusters fired a second time for about 13 minutes.This was the last such maneuver for Landsat 7 and the beginning of the end for the satellite, which has provided images of the earth’s changing resources for more than 17 years. 

USGS logo
October 31, 2016

Working together to advance international coordination of Earth observation programs

Artist’s rendition of Landsat 8 in orbit. NASA graphic.
October 11, 2016

Looking into the past to see the future on Earth Observation Day

Dr. William Pecora, USGS Director, 1965-71
September 21, 2016

An annual award for outstanding achievement in remote sensing

Canyonlands National Park as seen by Landsat 8
September 21, 2016

Toward a space-based perspective of our planet in the 1960s

Landsat 8
July 18, 2016

In western North America, mountain pine beetles infest and ravage thousands of acres of forest lands. Landsat satellites bear witness to the onslaught in a way that neither humans nor most other satellites can.

The use of irrigation water in California fields like this can be monitored by Landsat satellites.
April 29, 2016

As droughts rage and aquifers dwindle, people may wonder: Is there enough water to meet all our needs?  Landsat satellites are helping to answer that question.

collage of scientists conducting science related to each mission are
March 15, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey and the European Space Agency (ESA) have established an innovative partnership to enable USGS storage and redistribution of Earth observation data acquired by Copernicus program satellites.

Image: Battle Creek Flooding May 2015, SD
September 28, 2015

Join millions of people participating in America’s PrepareAthon! on Sept. 30. This campaign encourages the nation to conduct drills, discussions and exercises to practice what to do before, during and after a disaster or emergency strikes.