Recently, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released additional information regarding the next generation of Landsat satellites (the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, or LDCM). Under a Memorandum of Understanding reached in December 2005, the USGS, while working with NASA, is responsible for mission oversight. At this time, there is preliminary information regarding the mission payload, which will include spectral bands similar to Landsat 7 (see the first question, below). Both NASA and the USGS maintain information on the LDCM.
After reading the most recent announcement about the roles of each agency, I asked some questions about the role of EROS Data Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the facility that has been responsible for archiving Landsat data for more than 30 years. A variety of people from USGS contributed answers to these questions.
Directions Magazine (DM): What is the payload of the LDCM? What is the ground resolution of the sensor? What is its bandwidth range and spectral sensitivity?
USGS: The current plan is for a sensor package very similar to that carried on Landsat 7, though, at present, there is no plan to carry a thermal band package. I encourage you to refer to the October 2006 issue of Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing [article by James R. Irons and Jeffrey G. Masek - PDF 447Kb] for a detailed breakdown of the sensor design proposed.
DM: Will the satellite carry a radar instrument?
DM: The most recent press release said that the USGS will be responsible for flight operations, image capture and archiving, and product dissemination. Can you clarify the responsibilities?
USGS: Flight Operations, image capture and archiving, and product dissemination will occur at the Center for Earth Resources Observations and Science (EROS.)
DM: In addition to EROS, which existing ground receiving stations will be used?
USGS: This is under study.
DM: When do the USGS and NASA expect competitive bids for flight ops and data collection capability to go out?
USGS: Calendar year 2008 and 2009.
DM: If the existing contractor (SAIC) at EROS does not win the bid for data collection, will it affect current EROS operations?
USGS: All procurements are subject to open competition.
DM: The press release said that the mission operations facility will be configured at the USGS EROS Center through commercial facility modification contracts. Does this imply that additions will be made to the existing facility to expand operations and archiving storage?
USGS: Some facility modifications may be needed for the LDCM. If and how much is still being studied.
DM: It looks like EROS, in general, will benefit from the LDCM. Are there plans to expand research activities or will this primarily affect technical services?
USGS: The addition of a new, consistent data stream should benefit both the operational and science user communities.
DM: Does the USGS envision that data product dissemination will be facilitated through an expansion of the USGS Store and will it continue working with partners?
USGS: Product dissemination will be based on the Landsat 7 model; however, the USGS has the goal of providing a standard product available on a Web-enabled system. The value added resellers' community will continue to be a major segment of the data distribution planning. (http://store.usgs.gov/)
DM: Who are the project leaders and the members of the LDCM team? Are they split between EROS and another location?
USGS: NASA is responsible for overall mission integration, and the head of the NASA portion of the LDCM project is Bill Ochs (301-286-7277). The LDCM project is run out of EROS under Mike Headley, with staff support at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Program oversight is provided by the Land Remote Sensing Program at USGS headquarters in Reston, Virginia.