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NASA To Release Landsat 7 Data On the Web 56

UAVThumper writes "The US Geological Survey homepage is featuring an article about the upcoming release of select Landsat 7 image data (on June 4) at or This is to be a pilot project for a larger effort called the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, whose end result looks like a version of Google Earth using Landsat data. Seven Landsat satellites were launched over a period of 27 years, the last in 1999. More on Landsat can be found here on Wikipedia or here at the official NASA Page."
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NASA To Release Landsat 7 Data On the Web

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  • by FlyingSquidStudios ( 1031284 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @11:09PM (#19304721) Homepage
    will it help me find my keys?
  • World wind (Score:4, Informative)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @11:13PM (#19304735) Journal
    Hmmm, by chance I installed NASA's "world wind" last night and it comes with LandSAT-7 overlays?
    • Re:World wind (Score:5, Informative)

      by jofer ( 946112 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @01:14AM (#19305483)

      The short answer is that what you're seeing in WorldWind (or what you're seeing in a color image, regardless) is only part of the data collected by the landsat satellites. The landsat satellites are multispectral sensors--they collect data over a broad range of the spectrum, not just visible light.

      The article doesn't specifically say, but it's referring to releasing the full multispectral images...

      3 band false color composites have been available free globally for quite awhile; here they're talking about releasing the full 7 band images. I would assume they'll have multiple date ranges for most locations, as well...

      Sites like the GLCF already have a lot of this data available, but this is an effort to get much more of it processed, georeferenced, and online.

      Or that's what I gather, anyway... Actually, I'm not quite sure why this is on slashdot. It's just a quick news relase about the project, and it's not really much in the way of news, either. Must be a slow day!

  • Maybe it's just me, but that article had too many Frammis rods and Johnson bars in it. It looked like someone was making the story up as they wrote...
  • Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jim_deane ( 63059 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @11:42PM (#19304951) Journal

    This is really fantastic! I've done some academic work in geospatial analysis, and finding good data is always the biggest challenge--especially on a tight budget.

    It won't always be perfectly aligned with the project objectives, but to have it easily available and pre-processed (ortho-rectified, with metadata) will help with many projects.
  • by rustalot42684 ( 1055008 ) <> on Monday May 28, 2007 @11:46PM (#19304983)
    In Soviet Russia, satellite watches YOU!

    Er, wait a minute....
  • Anyone know how this is different from the existing Landsat 2000 data that's been available for years ? []

    Other than the fact that its mostly in the MrSid format ?
    • by jofer ( 946112 )

      Just to answer your question, those are 3 band, false-color composites. They're only part of the data the landsat sensors collect (7 bands).

      Most of the multispectral data they're talking about is already online, though. This is just a project to get more of it online, and in a centralized place.

    • The Landsat 2K data record ended with 2000, probably without any Landsat 7 data at all (L7 was launched 04/15/1999). Although the press release doesn't say so explicitly, it is highly likely that the new program will involve the release of more recent imagery, including data collected by L7.
    • The Landsat 2000 is from Landsat 7 and has a resolution of 15 meters/pixel. The Landsat 1990 data is from Landsats 4 and 5, and has a resolution of 30 meters/pixel.

      The Landsat 2000 data set is the result of a planned campaign to obtain worldwide coverage; the Landsat 1990 data was collected from whatever was available and has gaps (particularly islands) which are covered in the Landsat 2000 data,
  • This is excellent (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Having open, free data is in many ways as important as open, free software. I look forward to interesting uses of this information.
    • People forget that one of the cornerstones of science is the sharing of information. Its those last and often forgotten steps in the scientific method: publish and peer review.
  • Hmm, sounds a lot like NASA World Wind ( [] ) - Landsat7, 3D globe, free data. And hi-res ortho imagery to boot. So what am I supposed to be excited about that's new?
    • Why is higher detail of antarctica not being published, it should at least compress real well , but its still very poor.

      There should be lots of data from nasa, its not like they can miss the south pole.

      Judging from the bad rendering on a sphere, i notice lots of math errors/scewing around the pole. A pole is the same everywhere, this is a static

      Is it (C)?

      Same as below ocean views, we have good undersea maps, so that would be good too even if its is of much lower resolution.
      • There should be lots of data from nasa, its not like they can miss the south pole.

        The amount of visible light data available for the South Pole depends on the orbit of the satellite and the data gathered by the satellite.

        Incidentally, J-Track - 3D [], NASA's realtime Java-based satellite tracker, lists only three LANDSAT satellites in orbit: LANDSAT 4, LANDSAT 5, and LANDSAT 7. Although they are in polar orbits, these three gathered only non-visual data. Information about each of these satellites can be

  • by Jameson Burt ( 33679 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @12:32AM (#19305195)
    Even U.S. federal government agencies are ceasing use of Landsat,
    after using it for years.
    For example, in USDA (United States Department of Agriculture),
    Landsat images have become essentially unuseable.
    The Landsat satellite remaining has been producing alternate good data and striped data.
    The data has been very slow (less frequently produced) compared to some Indian data.

    The Indian satellite data has been far cheaper until now and more frequent, but must be ordered.
    So, eg, data on U.S. geographic sites on specific dates does not exist unless ordered.
    This is understandable when you realize how much disk space would be consumed
    and that Indian satellites make much more fequent passes than Landsat

    For almost half a century, the U.S. had a lead in space,
    almost solely from its efforts in the 1960's.
    On numerous fronts, this is no longer true.
    Indeed, it can no longer be true.

    The United States stocks its legislature with lawyers, not engineers.
    The President stocks its agencies heads largely with lawyers, not engineers.
    For example, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration was first headed in the 1890's by
    an engineer, and similarly reputable people until about 1976.
    That agency puts a picture of its heads and primary qualification on a wall.
    For a few decades now, that agency's heads have been outrages to technology.
    One head's picture puts his qualification as "football player".
    Then there are the many heads that are lawyers.
    Indeed, in the super agency, U.S. Department of Transportation,
    a few years ago lawyers came to line management positions,
    lawyers who thought so much of themselves that they actually demoted (including less salary)
    numerous engineers.
    After a few years, this egregious act was reversed,
    but that act merely reflects a great deal of what has become the U.S. Federal Government.
    For example, a sample of Federal Agencies' libraries reveals that
    its libraries (USGS, USDOT, USDA, ...) have received virtually no new books.
    Its as if the need for books in Federal Government ceased around 1980.
    At USDOT, one researcher sought a book that detailed regulations that it set for vehicles.
    That book was in a library, a locked room with no open hours.
    The telephone number on that library's door led to no-one with a key.
    Finally, someone was found with a key to the library,
    but the book, produced by USDOT no longer existed,
    and the only hope of a copy now lie in the hands of a contractor.

    The U.S. government once provided some good service.
    Its vast expenditures guaranteed that, amongst its enormous expenditures, something good
    would get produced.
    My impression is that the last quarter century has greatly reduced that amount of good
    coming out the the U.S. Federal Government.

    How can a government spending several trillion dollars a year,
    spend but about $25 billion on space technologies,
    and then manage to hobble even that?

    How can a nation that had engineering marvels,
    now produce but about 50,000 engineers a year.
    This is about the same number produced by the little country of South Korea.
    Japan, with less than half the U.S. population, produces twice as many engineers.
    India produces somewhere between 100,000 and 400,000 (according to one Indian entrepreneur)
    engineers. China produces several times more engineers than the U.S.
    A country does not advance using air-in-its-head; it advances using something more tangible.

    The U.S. is massive (in area, population, and resources), but has put itself on a diet.
    It's shedding engineers, scientists, and technology like Landsat.
    • by SadGeekHermit ( 1077125 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @01:56AM (#19305701)
      A recent study ( [] ) done by the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University determined that the number of ACTUAL engineers produced by India, China, and the U.S. were comparable.

      The reason the Indian and Chinese numbers are so ridiculously inflated is that they boost their counts by considering everyone who does something even slightly technical, including things like small engine repair, to be an "engineer". Partially this is because of problems in translation -- the article mentions that the word "Engineer" doesn't translate well to Chinese, for example.

      In contrast, in the U.S. the title "engineer" is very specific and refers only to a few specializations that require an advanced degree -- in fact, most states require licensing (with very difficult tests) and several years of experience working under a P.E. (Professional Engineer) before a person can technically call himself one. Here we're not discussing "software engineers" but REAL engineers -- i.e. people who work with physical engineering, i.e. mechanical, civil, and electrical engineers.

      So relax about THAT at least. We produce just as many ACTUAL engineers as anyone else, even if we don't give them jobs when they graduate. :(

      As far as some of the other things you mentioned, well, what you're describing is the general state of civil service itself. The lawyers HAVE taken over, and they DO only respect other lawyers. As most Americans know (or at least suspect) our current federal government is a "great big pile of dumb" (in the words of a guy I used to work with).

      Things are better (somewhat) at the state level. Try New York; we've got our heads screwed on straight.

      • If you have ever been in any offices doing any type of logistics work you'll hear the word "engineer" thrown around a lot. What does "System's Engineer" mean anyway? They're sure as heck not doing any *actual* engineering work.
        • Garbagemen like to call themselves "sanitary engineers". This does not make them engineers by the official U.S. definition. They are still garbagemen, whether they want to admit it or not.

          All official U.S. counts use the official U.S. definition. This was the point I was making. WE count ACTUAL ENGINEERS. China and India count all sorts of other people who are NOT engineers.

          Anyway, there is, technically, an engineering discipline called "systems engineering" but it usually applies to factory layout and as
    • Face facts people, by and large, in the majority of cases , for all intents and purposes, the United States of America has jumped the shark.

      It was once (a long time ago, relatively speaking) the obvious world leader in technical advances, science and research.

      This is no longer the case more often than not.

      I'm not saying it's dead, I'm not saying all-y'all should mass-exodus like lemmings, but seriously folks - the US of A is getting a little grey and wrinkly these days.
    • For almost half a century, the U.S. had a lead in space,
      almost solely from its efforts in the 1960's.
      On numerous fronts, this is no longer true.
      Indeed, it can no longer be true.

      Your pointless rant notwithstanding, the leaders in satellite imaging are DigitalGlobe and Space Imaging, both US companies.

      Perhaps NASA feels that the money is better spent elsewhre when private comapnies are already providing such a service?
    • by smoker2 ( 750216 )

      At USDOT, one researcher sought a book that detailed regulations that it set for vehicles.
      That book was in a library, a locked room with no open hours.
      The telephone number on that library's door led to no-one with a key.
      Finally, someone was found with a key to the library,
      but the book, produced by USDOT no longer existed,
      and the only hope of a copy now lie in the hands of a contractor.
      Beware of the Leopard ?
  • by toby34a ( 944439 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @01:09AM (#19305455)
    The fact of the matter is that Landsat-7 data has been publicly available for free in some form in the past (e.g. NASA World Wind, etc.) However, this is in three-color overlays (good for people to look at, but of limited scientific value). There have been satellites where the data is freely available (such as MODIS or NOAA AVHRR), but at larger resolution (1 KM, usually.) The true power of the imager comes in dealing with the individual bands. These image datasets are at far finer resolution (30 m for visible, 60 m for thermal IR) and can tell us quite a bit about the land surface. With the free release of Landsat data, it will become possible to get a very high-resolution dataset of land surface types and processes that are not able to be resolved with either NOAA AVHRR and MODIS data. Within the scientific community, to create a global dataset using Landsat images took a lot of money- now, it'll be a lot easier. I'll be definitely downloading some of this- a 30m global vegetation product can be a lot more useful then a 1 KM vegetation product if your resolution on your simulation is very, very small. As a scientific dataset, Landsat has quite a few uses, and I applaud the free release, even if it is only selected data. As long as it is the FULL dataset (all seven bands), then I'll be happy.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I agree about the individual bands being important.
      However, a great deal of LandSat _is_ available freely through GLCF ESDI ( []), with all its bands, and has been for years. So while most of the posters here aren't quite informed, their basic question is relevant: Why is NASA making this new website? I can imagine a few possible reasons.
      1. They want to do GLCF a favor by offloading their servers?
      2. Maybe they will offer more complete set of LandSat with diff
      • 2. Maybe they will offer more complete set of LandSat with different timestamps?
        That's my hope. Whenever I've looked for Landsat data in the past at the GLCF (Global Land Cover Facility), the holdings were old, with poor temporal coverage in general. A single image from 10 years back is not what users of the data typically need.
  • ... on-line, in various places. The University of Maryland has a fairly complete set of Landsat 5 and 7 data, all bands, available via ftp (not my place to give out the url, though).

    Landsat 7 has been ailing for the last four years and Landsat 5 is older than most slashdotters, though still soldiering on (Landsat 6 was lost on launch.) The delay in launching a continuity mission is a scientific crime, as 35 year's worth of continuous acquisition is going to be interrupted -- unless the ailing birds can ke
  • by Dausha ( 546002 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @07:41AM (#19307311) Homepage
    IMHO, Landsat 6 has the best resolution of any of its siblings; thanks to its ultra-low orbit.

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall