Landsat 2030 Initiative: A Leap Forward in Sustainable Earth Observation and Climate Resilience

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The Department of the Interior recently unveiled the Landsat 2030 International Partnership Initiative, a game-changing step towards sustainable land, water, and resource management. The announcement was part of the third convening of the Biden-Harris administration’s National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Harris.

The Landsat program, a joint venture between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is the only American satellite system specifically designed to gather key data on Earth’s geology, habitats, farmlands, cities, lakes, glaciers, coastlines, and other surface features. The high-resolution imagery provided by Landsat underpins efforts to enhance environmental sustainability, improve climate change resilience, and stimulate economic growth, while offering an unparalleled record of our planet’s transforming landscapes.

“Earth observations are vital in the face of a changing climate,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Michael Brain. “By combining Landsat’s long-term dataset and legacy of excellence with global partnership, the 2030 Initiative will provide actionable science that can help other science agencies, stakeholders, industry, and academics tackle complex questions about how change is affecting landscapes, waterways, and wildlife around the globe.”

As climate change impacts intensify globally, Landsat satellites play a critical role in providing data and imagery to inform science-based decisions on pivotal issues like water use, wildfire impacts, coral reef degradation, glacier retreat, and tropical deforestation. USGS Director David Applegate emphasized the agency’s pride in supporting continued understanding of environmental and climate changes occurring not just on public lands managed by the Department of the Interior, but throughout the United States and across the world.

The 2030 Initiative will focus on the upcoming U.S. Landsat Next Earth observation satellite mission. It aims to build on Landsat’s 52-year data record, enabling users to document, study, understand, and better manage landscape changes at local, regional, and global scales. The Landsat Next mission promises enhanced capabilities for the next generation of users, offering higher spatial resolution, twice the current number of spectral bands, and improved revisit time.

The global Landsat data archive, maintained by the USGS – Earth Resources Observation Science Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is unparalleled in its length, breadth, and quality. Today, Landsat is the most widely cited land-focused Earth observation satellite in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, having provided science-quality observations of the Earth’s land surfaces, surface waters, and coastal regions for more than five decades.

The Landsat 2030 Initiative marks a significant stride towards a future where decisions about our planet’s resources are guided by comprehensive, high-quality data. As we grapple with the challenges of climate change, such initiatives will be critical in enabling sustainable management and resilience.

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