Future of Landsat (post-2025)

      Sunday 29 July 2018 |  by


The USGS recently surveyed Landsat users for opinions and data requirements for post-Landsat 9 missions, providing crucial insight into the potential future of the programme.

Timeline of Landsat satellites

Four of the key aspects that the survey suggests USGS are considering are:

  • Having a constellation of satellites (potentially increasing overpass frequency)
  • Pursuing more bands with greater special focus (e.g. for vegetation, temperature or moisture)
  • Improving spatial resolution
  • Charging for future Landsat imagery

The wide variety of options explored in the survey did indicate that planning post-Landsat 9 is very much preliminary in nature. However, given the sheer number of questions devoted to charging options, it is clear USGS are considering charging for future imagery (echoing earlier hints that charges may be on the horizon). Potential charging options explored indicated included subscription fees or charging for individual images, specific products, spectral bands (e.g. beyond visual RGB bands) or higher resolution imagery.

As a strong advocate for open data, I was vocal in my criticism of any fee-based introduction, particularly given the open-access policy of ESA & Sentinel-2. However, as I’ve discussed previously, the enhancements Sentinel-2 makes on the Landsat sensors really prompts evolution of the Landsat satellite programme. The Landsat user survey indicates USGS are keenly aware of this and are exploring radical options for overhaul in the future.

If you are a Landsat user and didn’t get the opportunity to have your say, please provide USGS with your views here.

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