New Teaching Resource for Remote Sensing
The Tracking Change Over Time lesson is intended for students in grades 5–8. It enhances students’ learning of geography, earth science, and problem solving by seeing landscape changes from space. The lesson plan includes an introduction to satellite images, an introduction to remote sensing, instructions on how to use the free software MultiSpec, and modules that go deeper into specific areas of remote sensing application.
In the latest module, "River Flooding", students discover how a flood in June 2008 affected southern Indiana and Illinois. The module takes a problem-based approach to show students how satellite images can be used to analyze the changes that a flood causes. The images used in the lesson, along with supplementary materials, are also available at http://eros.usgs.gov/educational-activities.
Landsat 7 Marks 15 Years of Observing Earth
For the past 15 years Landsat 7, launched on April 15, 1999, has continued the legacy of Earth observations started by the Landsat program in 1972. Landsat 7’s remarkable longevity has been vital to the majority of Landsat data users who require frequent imaging of specific areas for land and resource management. Today, Landsat 7, working in tandem with Landsat 8, continues to provide a continuous, unbiased record of change across the earth land surface.
For more information about Landsat 7’s first 15 years, please see the USGS Press Release.
Taking Landsat to the Extreme: The Coldest Place on Earth
What is the coldest place on Earth? It’s a high ridge in Antarctica on the East Antarctic Plateau, as seen on the Landsat Image Mosaic Of Antarctica (LIMA) image on the left . Temperatures in several hollows of the plateau can dip below minus 133.6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 92 degrees Celsius) on a clear winter night.
With remote sensing satellites, including Landsat 8, researchers have recorded new measurements of the Earth's coldest temperatures. The satellite imagery not only allows scientists to take the temperature of these inhospitable locations, but enables them to figure out what sort of weather brings on the record-breaking cold.
The quest to find out just how cold it can get on Earth -- and why -- started when NASA researchers were studying large snow dunes, sculpted and polished by the wind, on the East Antarctic Plateau. When the scientists looked closer, they noticed cracks in the snow surface between the dunes, possibly created when wintertime temperatures got so low the top snow layer shrunk. This led scientists to wonder what the temperature range was, and prompted them to hunt for the coldest places using data from satellite sensors: MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer), AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer), and Landsat 8 - TRS (Thermal Infrared Sensor).
More information about the coldest place on Earth can be found at http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/09dec_coldspot
USGS & NASA to host a sustainable land imaging users forum
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA will host an event on December 4 to discuss how to assess user needs for global, continuous Landsat-quality satellite imagery in support of NASA’s Sustainable Land Imaging Program.
User requirements are a critical resource in designing and implementing future satellites. The USGS has been developing a structured methodology for acquiring, cataloging, maintaining and evaluating user requirements for Earth observations through its Land Remote Sensing Program, which manages the USGS contributions to the joint efforts of USGS and NASA for the Landsat program.
The Users Forum will feature the methodologies and approaches the USGS is using to acquire and evaluate user requirements, a presentation of methods and preliminary findings, as well as opportunities for feedback with regard to the approach and requirements gathered to date.
Changes in World’s Forests Portrayed in High Definition
The importance of forest ecosystem services is recognized around the world; however, previous methods of tracking global forest change were based on data that did not have enough detail to accurately measure change. A new study published in Science magazine is changing that.
Matthew C. Hansen of the University of Maryland, assisted by co-author Thomas R. Loveland, chief scientist at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, S. D., led this unparalleled survey of global forests. The team of scientists interpreted over 650,000 Landsat 7 scenes to create global maps of forest change. The maps are the most detailed and complete assessment of global forest dynamics available. Global tree cover extent, loss, and gain were mapped at 30-m resolution, higher detail than ever before. Globally during this period, 2.3 million square kilometers of forest were lost, and 0.8 million square kilometers were gained.
"Tracking changes in the world's forests is critical because forests have direct impacts on local and national economies, on climate and local weather, and on wildlife and clean water," said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science. "This fresh view of recent changes in the world’s forests is thorough, objective, visually compelling, and vitally important."
"Ever since the USGS made Landsat data free to anyone in 2008, Landsat imagery has served as a reliable common record, a shared vocabulary of trusted data about Earth conditions," Castle continued.
Tom Loveland added, "This multi-organization project was only feasible with the existence of free Landsat data. The invaluable Landsat archive supplies high-quality, long-term, consistent global data at a scale appropriate for tracking forest gains and losses."
The 41-year Landsat record of changes on the Earth's surface is continuously updated in the Landsat archive maintained by the USGS EROS Center.
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Fly with Landsat
The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) reached its nominal altitude of 705 kilometers (438 miles) on April 12, 2013. LDCM is still returning engineering data until the checkout phase ends on May 30. In the meantime, NASA has been releasing some stunning imagery to demonstrate the impressive quality of data that will soon be available. The latest is an animation that shows one swath from the satellite recorded on April 19. The seamless flyover includes 56 images in a swath about 9,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) long from northern Russia to South Africa. For more information, go to http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/landsat/news/russia-south-africa.html.
Landsat Images Provide the Gold Standard for New Earth Applications
Images from Landsat satellites provided free to the public by the Department of the Interior's U.S. Geological Survey were the starting points for "a new breakthrough" reported by Time and announced on the Official Google Blog. Using its Earth Engine technology, Google has compiled decades of Landsat images into a new, interactive time-lapse experience. For more on this story, please go to the USGS Newsroom.
NASA and USGS to Host Social Media Event
On May 30, 2013, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission will begin its life's work as an operational mission under the new moniker Landsat 8. Social media users that participate in Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus can register to attend an event in Sioux Falls, SD that will include an official ceremony, tours, and an evening event. Participants that are chosen to attend are responsible for their own travel costs. Registration opens at noon EDT on April 26, 2013. For more information and to register, go to http://landsat.usgs.gov/LDCMSocial.php
First View from the New Landsat Satellite
On March 18, 2013, the newly launched Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) began to send back images of Earth from both of its instruments—the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS). One of the satellite's first images is of the area where the Great Plains meet the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Colorado.
“The first OLI and TIRS images look great right out of the box,” said Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist. “I have waited a long time to view the first LDCM images and I could not be more impressed with their appearance.”
For more information on the new images go to NASA's Earth Observatory.
Landsat 5 Sets Guinness World Record
Landsat 5 successfully set the new Guinness World Records title for 'Longest-operating Earth observation satellite' as stated in an e-mail from Guinness World Records sent to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Outliving its three-year design life, Landsat 5 delivered high-quality, global data of Earth's land surface for 28 years and 10 months. More >