Sustainable Land Imaging—USGS Initiates Landsat 9 Development

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An extensive interagency study documenting the societal benefits of hundreds of Earth observing systems revealed that Landsat is the second most impactful space system, topped only by Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems. This finding led the Administration to commit to a Sustainable Land Imaging (SLI) program, extending the current NASA-USGS Landsat partnership for another two decades. The SLI program includes the immediate initiation of a Landsat 9 mission, which is modeled after Landsat 8, and a sustained multi-year technology development and system innovation effort in order to evaluate new measurement technologies for a follow-on mission to Landsat 9.  Under the SLI program, the USGS and NASA will continue to work together to ensure sustained access for another 20 years to land remote sensing observations for U.S. and global research and operational users. 

Landsat 9 will be an improved version of Landsat 8, with more redundancy and a broader suite of operational products that capitalize on recent developments in processing and utilizing analysis-ready data to deliver more customer-friendly information products to monitor, assess, and predict land surface change.  These products are designed to serve a larger set of customers across the USGS, DOI, and the civil community than the current Landsat 7 and 8 products.  It is planned that Landsat 9 be launched in late 2020 to ensure a smooth handoff with Landsat 7 and continue providing the weekly coverage required by tens of thousands of current Landsat users. 

The responsibilities for Landsat 9 project implementation are largely divided between mission segment areas: NASA is responsible for the development of the space segment and launch segment, and the USGS is responsible for the development of the ground segment. The USGS is also responsible for Landsat 9 mission operations after completion of the on-orbit checkout period, including image data collection, management, and distribution. The Landsat 9 project scope includes overall project management and system engineering for the ground segment development, including coordination with NASA for overall mission development and science coordination. The ground segment activities consist largely of the evolution of the current Landsat ground system capabilities necessary to support Landsat 9.

For more information, contact USGS EROS, Jim Nelson,

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Jim Nelson
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