USA: Federal advisory panel has told the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) to make all access of the images from its Landsat satellite program free and open. The panel in its report said that any effort to fees for such data would not only generate less revenue but would also damage the U.S. remote sensing industry, Sciencemag reported.
The Landsat program started in 1972 and is currently being managed by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and over the last 47 years has produced the world’s longest running satellite images and documenting the massive global changes caused by mankind. Two Landsat satellites are currently in space taking almost 1,200 images a day at a resolution of 30-meters.
Since 2008, USGS no longer charges any fees of Landsat images, thus, creating a platform for academic research along with users in government and industry. The annual budget of Landsat is $80 million and almost ten years ago, this decision generated a revenue of $2 billion.
In 2017, DOI requested the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) to impose fees for using Landsat data in order to increase revenue. The move was met with objections from scientists in both America and abroad along with federal and state agencies. Frank Avila, Scientist, NGAC said, ““The community was very vocal regarding the value of a free and open data policy.”