USGS Submissions


Dwarf Planets and Asteroids

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Astrogeology is currently supporting three missions that have visited asteroids: Dawn, Rosetta, and Hayabusa.  The Dawn mission is the current NASA spacecraft in the asteroid belt, and is currently en route to the largest asteroid in the Main Asteroid Belt, the dwarf planet Ceres, after studying the second largest asteroid, 4 Vesta.  Astrogeology supports Dawn with the Integrated Software for Imagers and Spectrometers (ISIS) software, participation on the science team, and dealing with issues related to the coordinate systems of asteroids, many of which cannot be well described wi

Lunar Calibration

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Astrogeology maintains the highest quality data on the brightness of the Moon via the Lunar Calibration Program.  These data are used to calibrate many spaceborne Earth observing instruments, including the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).  Lunar calibration  is planned by virtually all future operational satellite missions including National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (GOES-R ABI), USGS (Landsat 8 OLI), NASA (NPP-VIIRS and JPSS), European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) (MTG FCI and EPS), and J


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Mars is a major focus of U.S. and international space programs with five currently operational spacecraft (Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity).


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The innermost planet of our solar system is being investigated by the NASA MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission.  The Astrogeology Science Center provides the Integrated Software for Imagers and Spectrometers (ISIS) software used to process the data from the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS).  Astrogeology is leading the international effort to combine the laser altimeter data and stereo images to produce the highest quality global topographic map of Mercury.  This is the first time altimetry and stereogrammetry are being combined


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Earth’s natural satellite is currently under observation by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft.  Astrogeology is involved in a number of studies as part of the science team for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, which is obtaining hundreds of terabytes of high-resolution (0.5-2 m/pixel) images of the Moon; the DIVINER infrared imaging spectrometer; and the Mini-RF radar system, which produces 7.5 m/pixel views inside the permanently shadowed polar craters where ice may be found.  Controlled mosaics of the op


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The Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn is investigating the rings and moons as well as the giant planet itself.  The Astrogeology staff provides Integrated Software for Imagers and Spectrometers (ISIS) software for multiple imagers and the radar system onboard Cassini.  Research has largely focused on Titan, a moon with a thick atmosphere and an active hydrocarbon “hydrologic” cycle.  The topographic information from the radar is used to identify sites on Titan that are likely to have “cryovolcanism” where water behaves like lava in the frigid environment of the outer

Climate Change

Biophysical remote sensing

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The USGS Eastern Geographic Science Center (EGSC) is conducting process-based hydrologic, biologic and climate modeling to demonstrate the utility of those data in particularly challenging or scientifically important regions of the eastern United States, and to improve hydrologic, biologic, and climate modeling.

Developing a Landsat-MODIS Snow Cover Essential Climate Variable Product

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The spatial and temporal distribution of snow covered area (SCA) represents an important climate record for hydrologists, climatologists, ecologists, other scientists, and resource managers. Snow cover exhibits tremendous spatial and temporal variability and is commonly concentrated in remote or inaccessible regions, making spaceborne remote sensing the most feasible approach for comprehensive SCA monitoring. Presently, no single existing or planned instrument provides daily high spatial resolution imagery suitable for SCA mapping.

Digital Representation of Oil and Natural Gas Pad Scars in Southwest Wyoming

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This effort involved the identification and delineation of oil and gas well pad scars in southwestern Wyoming using 4-band NAIP imagery acquired in 2009 and 2012.  Imagery was used in a customized feature extraction program that provided an initial representation of pad scars, which served as the basis for a manual clean-up and final delineation of the pad scars.