The Land Remote Sensing Program of the USGS actively participated in a variety of international forums to improve access to Earth observation data from foreign partners. Since the launch of Landsat 1 in 1972, international cooperators have formed a key strategic alliance with the USGS for direct downlinks of Landsat data and to build the foundation for scientific and technical collaboration. The international cooperators provide critical emergency response support and contribute historical Landsat imagery for the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation. In 2011, the USGS hosted the Landsat Technical Working Group and provided a Ground System Technical Workshop for the international cooperators representing 17 countries.
The USGS plays a leadership role in two international groups for satellite observations, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), and the International Charter for Space and Major Disasters (the Charter). CEOS (www.ceos.org) is a voluntary international partnership of 52 space agencies and related organizations, which strive to enhance international coordination of satellite observations and data exchange for societal benefit. Through its participation in CEOS, USGS is positioned to advance space-based land remote sensing technologies and applications with foreign partners, to obtain new data sets and to serve the science and technology needs of its user community.
The Charter (www.disasterscharter.org) provides a unified system of satellite observations and data delivery to those affected by natural disasters. USGS participates in the Charter in order to receive and provide remote sensing data to support world-wide disaster response and recovery efforts In 2011, the Charter was activated 32 times in response to U.S. and foreign disasters.