Canadian Forest Service Publications

Benefits of the free and open Landsat data policy. 2019. Zhe, Z., M.A. Wulder, D.P. Roy, C.E. Woodcock, M.C. Hansen, V.C. Radeloff, S.P. Healey, C. Schaaf, P. Hostert, P. Strobl, J-F. Pekel, L. Lymburner, N. Pahlevan, T.A. Scambos. Remote Sensing of Environment. Vol. 224, pp. 382-385.

Year: 2019

Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 39544

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2019.02.016

† This site may require a fee.

Abstract

The United States (U.S.) federal government provides imagery obtained by federally funded Earth Observation satellites typically at no cost. For many years Landsat was an exception to this trend, until 2008 when the United States Geological Survey (USGS) made Landsat data accessible via the internet for free. Substantial increases in downloads of Landsat imagery ensued and led to a rapid expansion of science and operational applications, serving government, private sector, and civil society. The Landsat program hence provides an example to space agencies worldwide on the value of open access for Earth Observation data and has spurred the adaption of similar policies globally, including the European Copernicus Program. Here, we describe important aspects of the Landsat free and open data policy and highlight the importance and continued relevance of this policy.

Plain Language Summary

Building upon the insights and experiences of the 2018-forward USGS / NASA Landsat Science team, the aim of this article is to support and elaborate on the value of the 2008 decision to make Landsat data free and open. We highlighted key elements related to data use, interoperability, as well as important scientific insights. Significant increases in downloads of Landsat imagery ensued and led to a rapid expansion of science and operational applications, serving government, private sector, and civil society. The Landsat program provides an example to space agencies worldwide on the value of open access for Earth Observation data. We describe important aspects of the Landsat free and open data policy and highlight the importance and continued relevance of free and open access.

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