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Sustainable Land Imaging Architecture Study Industry & Partner Day

Watch the Status Briefing : Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Sustainable Land Imaging Architecture Study Interim Status Briefing

On April 1, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) hosted an event to present to the research and industrial community the interim results and assessments from NASA's Sustainable Land Imaging (SLI) Architecture Study.

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About NASA Sustainable Land Imaging

For the past 42 years, Landsat satellites and associated U.S. Government ground processing, distribution, and archiving systems have acquired and made available global, moderate-resolution (5-120m), multispectral measurements of land and coastal regions, providing humankind's longest record of our planet from space. NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) of the Department of the Interior (DOI) fully recognize that this information is a national asset, providing an important and unique capability that benefits a broad community, including Federal, state, and local governments; global change science, academia, and the private sector. Landsat data provide a consistent and reliable foundation for research on land use change, forest health, and carbon inventories, and changes to our environment, climate, and natural resources. Additionally, the free and open availability of the Landsat data enables the measurements to be used routinely by decision makers both inside and outside the Government, for a wide range of natural resource issues, including water resource management, wildfire response, agricultural productivity, rangeland management, and the effects of climate change.

The Administration has committed to continue the Landsat program and its invaluable data stream. To continue data collection beyond Landsat-8, the Administration proposes to design and implement a spaceborne system to provide global, continuous Landsat-quality multispectral and thermal infrared measurements for at least the next 25 years. The satellite system may be combined with alternative sources for Landsat-quality data, either procured through commercial approaches or through partnership agreements, as they become available. In accordance with Administration objectives, NASA will lead the system design study in close collaboration with the USGS and be informed by existing knowledge of current and desired capabilities. The aim of the study will be to define a programmatically sustainable system that balances measurement capability, likelihood of data continuity (minimizing risks of gaps to the extent possible), and cost/affordability over the lifetime of the program. Technology infusion over the lifetime of the program will be considered as a feature of the long-term sustainable program.

In FY 2014, NASA will initiate the definition of a sustained, space-based, global land imaging capability for the nation, ensuring continuity following LDCM. Near-term activities led by NASA, in cooperation with USGS, will focus on studies to define the scope, measurement approaches, cost, and risk of a viable long-term land imaging system that will achieve national objectives. Evaluations and design activities will include consideration of stand-alone new instruments and satellites, as well as potential international partnerships. It is expected that NASA will support the overall system design, flight system implementation, and launch of future missions, while USGS will continue to fund ground system development, post-launch operations, and data processing, archiving, and distribution.

The basic guidance for the Sustainable Land Imaging Architecture Study is summarized by the following three basic tenets:


  • The SLI program should provide the data products for the long haul, without extraordinary infusions of funds, within the budget guidance provided.
  • It should also ensure that the technology required for the program is available and appropriate for the long haul.


  • The SLI program should continue the long term Landsat data record. This does not necessarily mean the imagery per se, but the usable products that define the utility of the data record.
  • Understanding how the data are used is essential when considering potential architectures.


  • The SLI program should exhibit a form of functional redundancy. The data sets should be able to draw on equivalent or near equivalent deliverables from different sources to provide the data for the highest priority land imaging data products.
  • With these "near equivalent" data sources identified in advance, the loss of a single satellite or instrument on orbit should not cripple the program or significantly impact users, and the program will exhibit graceful degradation.