The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) recently released a report recommending the need for a national land-imaging program. The report is the product of an interagency effort to ensure the U.S. has a financially and technically viable land-imaging program. Three major policy recommendations are outlined:
- The U.S. must commit to continue the collection of moderate-resolution land imagery.
- The U.S. should establish and maintain a core operational capability to collect moderate-resolution land imagery through the procurement and launch of a series of U.S.-owned satellites.
- The U.S. should establish the National Land Imaging Program, hosted and managed by the Department of the Interior, to meet U.S. civil land imaging needs.
The report indicated that even though Landsat has been in operation since 1972, it “has never been considered a truly operational capability. All Landsat satellites have been justified, built, and flown as experimental, scientific research systems with no assurance of the long-term continuity of the data.” Current gaps in Landsat data are expected to increase and systems deteriorate before the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), which will take the place of the aging Landsat, is scheduled for launch. In an effort to minimize data loss, the Bush Administration hopes to establish the National Land Imaging Program to ensure needs for civil land imaging and make available and affordable the data for all users. User needs would be evaluated continuously through communication with private, nonprofit, academic, commercial, and international users. Dr. John H. Marburger, OSTP Director and Science Advisor to the President, said of the plan, it “reflects President Bush’s commitment to play a leadership role in understanding the land surface we observe across the world.” Acknowledging changes in land use, coastal zones, and polar areas due to climate change, population growth, and development, Marburger stated, “the importance of this imagery to the Nation requires a more sustainable effort to ensure that land imaging data are available far into the future.”
The plan can be viewed at: http://www.ostp.gov/html/FLI-IWG%20report%20Print-ready%20low-res.pdf.
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