Landsat satellites have been operating since 1972, providing the longest continuous observation record of the Earth’s land surface. Over the past half century, the Landsat user community has grown exponentially, encompassing more diverse and evolving scientific research and operational uses. Understanding current and future user needs is crucial to informing the design of Landsat missions beyond Landsat 9. The USGS initiated a user needs collection process to document needs from U.S. Federal civil subject-matter experts who rely on moderate-resolution land imaging data across a diverse range of scientific research and application domains. In total, 379 moderate-resolution land imaging user needs were collected through structured interviews. The findings indicate that, at present, users need continuity in Landsat capabilities with free and open data access. Improvements to future Landsat systems should include 10-meter spatial resolution and at least weekly cloud-free observation frequency. Spectral enhancements should include the addition of red edge bands, and multiple, narrower visible, near-infrared, shortwave infrared, and thermal infrared bands. Ideally, a variety of applications need continuous, full-spectrum coverage in 10 nanometer (nm)-wide bands spanning the visible to shortwave infrared (VSWIR) region (400–2500 nm) and 5 to 8 multispectral thermal infrared bands. Non-Federal (state, local, commercial, academic, and international) sources found similar results, but a more comprehensive comparison across these communities through a broader survey may provide additional insights. USGS-collected moderate-resolution land imaging user needs are an input to the Landsat 10 Architecture Study to develop and assess feasible Landsat 10 mission architectures.
Major spectral enhancements and example usage including (a) examples of individual spectral band centers of breakthrough spectral enhancement identified for future Landsat and (b) ideal hyperspectral needs. ASTER – Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer; HyspIRI – Hyperspectral Infrared Imager.