Committee on Implementation of a Sustained Land Imaging Program; Space Studies Board; Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences; National Research Council
In 1972 NASA launched the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ETRS), now known as Landsat 1, and on February 11, 2013 launched Landsat 8. Currently the United States has collected 40 continuous years of satellite records of land remote sensing data from satellites similar to these. Even though this data is valuable to improving many different aspects of the country such as agriculture, homeland security, and disaster mitigation; the availability of this data for planning our nation’s future is at risk.
Thus, the Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) requested that the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Committee on Implementation of a Sustained Land Imaging Program review the needs and opportunities necessary for the development of a national space-based operational land imaging capability. The committee was specifically tasked with several objectives including identifying stakeholders and their data needs and providing recommendations to facilitate the transition from NASA’s research-based series of satellites to a sustained USGS land imaging program.
Landsat and Beyond: Sustaining and Enhancing the Nation’s Land Imaging Program is the result of the committee’s investigation. This investigation included meetings with stakeholders such as the DOI, NASA, NOAA, and commercial data providers. The report includes the committee’s recommendations, information about different aspects of the program, and a section dedicated to future opportunities.
Earth observation is a science and technology with tremendous power to collect data over the whole of the Earth at many wavelengths and at many spatial resolutions. But does this science and technology, or rather the use of this science and technology, have an ethical dimension? This article explores the application of ethical concepts to Earth observation. Three main aspects of ethics are examined: duty theories of ethics, consequentialist ethics, and environmental ethics. These ethical ideas are then applied to the UN Principles on Remote Sensing, the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters and to Google Earth, and also to questions of security and privacy. The article concludes that there is no absolute ethical position in relation to Earth observation, but a dependency on the perspective of the observer. For link to the article (but it’s behind a $58 paywall, seriously), click here.
by Dina Spector, Business Insider, Feb 11, 2013
The eighth satellite in NASA’s Earth-watching Landsat fleet will launch Monday, Feb. 11 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California…. The joint program between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey is the longest-running data record of Earth observations from space. …The Landsat program enables scientists to track major changes of Earth’s surface, including melting glaciers, urban explosion and the effects of natural disasters.
Read more from Business Insider NASA’s Landsat Data Continuity Mission Launch – Business Insider.
For the latest Landsat news go to it’s NASA mission page here.
- Landsat Data Continuity Mission Awaits Liftoff (spacedaily.com)
The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that provide invaluable data for predicting storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement, lack of financing and delays in launching replacements, according to several recent official reviews. The looming gap in satellite coverage, which some experts view as almost certain within the next few years, could result in shaky forecasts about storms like Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to hit the East Coast early next week.
For full text of the article, visit Dying Satellites Could Lead to Shaky Weather Forecasts – NYTimes.com.
- Flying Blind: America’s Aging Weather Satellites (science.time.com)
Geoplace.com, July 9, 2012
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) injected a bit of life into its aging Landsat 5 satellite, which has orbited Earth more than 150,000 times since its launch in 1984 and has been experiencing problems with its thematic mapper (TM) instrument. Engineers have been able to power-on a long-dormant data-collection instrument aboard the satellite—the multispectral scanner (MSS), which has been offline for more than a decade. USGS now is acquiring MSS data over the United States only. The news is significant, because USGS continues to work toward launch of an eighth Landsat satellite, meaning that data from current Landsat craft still are key to Earth-observing operations. Landsat 7, activated in 1999, continues to collect images worldwide. But, in 2003, Landsat 7 experienced a hardware failure that caused a 22-percent loss of data in every image. Meanwhile, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM or Landsat 8), is scheduled for launch in January 2013.
For full text of the article, visit USGS Keeps Landsat 5 Satellite Alive | Articles – Publishing Titles | GeoPlace.
by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News, une 8th, 2012
The integration of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) needs to be expedited, the Senate Armed Services Committee said in its report on the FY2013 defense authorization bill last week. … A provision of the bill would encourage greater collaboration on drone integration among the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, and NASA. “Large number of UASs now deployed overseas may be returned to the United States as the conflict in Afghanistan and operations elsewhere wind down in coming years, and new UASs are under development.” “Without the ability to operate freely and routinely in the NAS, UAS development and training– and ultimately operational capabilities– will be severely impacted,” the Committee report said.
For full text of the article, visit: Senate: Drones Need to Operate “Freely and Routinely” In U.S. | Secrecy News.
- Revealed: 64 Drone Bases on American Soil (wired.com)
- News Analysis: Drones and Cyberattacks Renew Debate Over Security (nytimes.com)
- Is there a mapping drone in your future? (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)
- Rand Paul: Stop the drones (salon.com)
by Economist, May 12, 2012
ON APRIL 8th Envisat, Europe’s largest Earth-observing satellite, unexpectedly stopped talking to its users on the Earth below. Since then those users have been frantically trying to re-establish contact. They rely on Envisat’s radars and other sensors for a wide range of measurements, from the temperature of the oceans to the chemistry of the stratosphere. Scientists have used it to gauge ocean conditions for shipping and to investigate earthquakes; its data have been the basis of thousands of scientific papers.
For full text of the article, visit Earth-observation satellites: Something to watch over us | The Economist.
- Satellite observes rapid ice shelf disintegration in Antarctic (naturenplanet.com)
- ESA’s Ailing Envisat Imaged by Another Earth Orbiting Satellite (universetoday.com)
- Legendary Earth-Observing Satellite Goes Silent (news.discovery.com)
- Op-Ed Contributor: Earth-Observing Satellites in Jeopardy (nytimes.com)
- Researchers Unable to Revive Europe’s Envisat (news.sciencemag.org)