US: Landsat satellites orbiting the Earth have continuously recorded changes to the planet’s land surfaces for 40 years, but while it is essential to US national security, the future of the programme is now in jeopardy, warns a new report from the National Research Council.
The committee that wrote the report warned that while the United States pioneered frequent-repeat global imaging, “other nations are now developing systems whose capability rivals or exceeds US systems.”
“National needs require the United States to reassert leadership and maintain and expand capabilities,” the committee wrote. “Space-based land imaging is essential to US national security as it is a critical resource for ensuring US food, energy, health, environmental, and economic interests.”
“The economic, intrinsic, and scientific benefits to the United States of Landsat imagery far exceed the investment in the system,” the committee states in its report, “Landsat and Beyond: Sustaining and Enhancing the Nation’s Land Imaging Program.”
Chaired by Jeff Dozier, a professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the committee includes experts in satellite imaging and remote sensing from across the country, including former NASA scientists and officials.
The committee’s primary recommendation is that the federal government establish a sustained and enhanced land imaging program with an overarching national strategy and long-term commitment, including clearly defined program requirements, management responsibilities, and persistent funding.
Source: Environment News