Landsat and the Data Continuity Mission [December 28, 2011]   [open pdf - 242KB]

"The U.S. Landsat Mission has collected remotely sensed imagery of the Earth's surface at moderate resolution for almost 40 years. At present two satellites--Landsat 5, launched in 1984, and Landsat 7, launched in 1999--are in orbit and continuing to supply images and data for the many users of the information. A study organized by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (henceforth called the FLI-IWG study) noted in August 2007 that the two satellites 'are operating beyond their design lifetimes in degraded status and are subject to failure at any time. Because of fuel limitations, neither satellite is expected to operate beyond 2010.' However, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) FY2010 budget request, released in May 2009, said recent analyses 'have estimated the Landsat-7 mission should continue to operate through at least the end of 2012.' In November 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced that it had stopped acquiring data from Landsat 5 because of deteriorating electronic components. […] Landsat has been used in a wide variety of applications, including climate research, natural resources management, commercial and municipal land development, public safety, homeland security and natural disaster management, among others. Landsat stakeholders include (1) investigators in geophysical and atmospheric sciences; (2) decision makers and program managers at NASA, USGS, and other federal agencies, including land management agencies; (3) international government and military decision makers; (4) for-profit enhanced Landsat products distributors; and (5) consumers of commercial land surface imagery and environmental data."

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CRS Report for Congress, R40594
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