Author Topic: Landsat Keep it or Scap it?  (Read 2406 times)

Offline pacman

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Landsat Keep it or Scap it?
« on: 11/25/2010 12:25 AM »
I was asked an interesting hypothetical question the other day by a student. Whether we should keep the Landsat programme with a follow on programme, or put money into another new sensor or put the money into either continuation of an existing mission e.g. MODIS. I have to say i was stumped. What do you think? 

Offline notsorandom

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Re: Landsat Keep it or Scap it?
« Reply #1 on: 11/25/2010 04:48 AM »
Hi Pacman welcome to the forum! I'm guessing that you are teaching Remote Sensing? Having done quite a bit of work with Landsat imagery I have a fondness for that series of satellites. Number five is my forum avatar. So I am pretty biased when it comes to keeping the series going.

Your question in a way has already been answered. There will be both a satellite and a new sensor system. The next one, Landsat Data Continuity Mission, is planing on being launched in 2012. The new sensor is a push broom type so the failure with the SLC that have plagued 7 won't be a problem.

One really great thing about the Landsat program is that its imagery goes back to 1972. All the satellites have flown sensors that are similar enough to make good comparisons of change over that time period.

Offline Danderman

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Re: Landsat Keep it or Scap it?
« Reply #2 on: 11/25/2010 02:51 PM »
If I were in charge, I would have NASA publish the requirements for the Landsat dataset, and simply contract with private companies to provide similar data, on an ongoing basis.

As long as earth resources data is provided by a program/project, its going to be very expensive.

Offline khallow

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Re: Landsat Keep it or Scap it?
« Reply #3 on: 11/26/2010 12:21 PM »
I was asked an interesting hypothetical question the other day by a student. Whether we should keep the Landsat programme with a follow on programme, or put money into another new sensor or put the money into either continuation of an existing mission e.g. MODIS. I have to say i was stumped. What do you think?

I must admit to being confused about what the question is. Landsat is already a series of vehicles with steadily improving capabilities. So creating a new program seems to me just changing the name without fundamentally changing anything else except for some shuffling of personnel.

Danderman mentioned a truly different approach, namely, purchasing imaging data from private sources instead of building the satellite itself.
Karl Hallowell

Offline notsorandom

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Re: Landsat Keep it or Scap it?
« Reply #4 on: 11/28/2010 03:52 AM »
Landsat is run through NOAA not NASA. They tried to privatize Landsat turning it over to a commercial company and found the type of imagery they provide is not profitable. The users could not afford the imagery at the prices necessary to make a profit. The whole program helps the economy tremendously so its worth the cost of sending up a new satellite every ten years or so.

The satellites and sensors themselves are built by contractors. LSCM is being but by Orbital, which is a company we all know and the sensors are being built by the same people who made HiRISE on the MRO.

Additionally there are private companies that provide imagery. Ikonos is one that come to mind. They sell very high resolution imagery, a good deal of which is used by the DoD. Thats a good niche for commercial.

If you are bored and want to see how Landsat works in real time here is a site that shows live down link data. http://earthnow.usgs.gov/

Offline Danderman

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Re: Landsat Keep it or Scap it?
« Reply #5 on: 11/28/2010 05:43 AM »
Landsat is run through NOAA not NASA. They tried to privatize Landsat turning it over to a commercial company and found the type of imagery they provide is not profitable. The users could not afford the imagery at the prices necessary to make a profit.

This is called "privatization in place", which works sometimes, but most of the time is a disaster. In this specific case, the government decided that the way to promote the private sector was to saddle Lockheed with the existing system and hope that a profit was in there somewhere.

Since the Landsat system was never designed with an eye to profitability, concluding that earth resources imagery can't be profitable based on that case is like concluding that satellite launches can't be profitable because the Shuttle can't be operated profitably.

The bottom line: the appropriate means of commercializing earth resources imagery is for the government to lay out its data requirements, and allow private companies to design systems to meet the data requirements (but not the system requirements). So, the government says it needs appropriately calibrated imagery of X resolution in Y wavebands, but not that the satellite must use gallium arsenide solar cells or that 40% of the satellite bus must be built in economically depressed states.

Online Ronsmytheiii

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Re: Landsat Keep it or Scap it?
« Reply #6 on: 11/28/2010 10:01 PM »
Which is done with Geo Eye, yet NOAA still requires the Landsat asserts.  Using private assets alone hurts their mission.
And this is a good reminder that just because one of your fellow space enthusiasts occasionally voices doubts about the SpaceX schedule announcements or is cautious about believing SpaceX has licked a problem before actually seeing proof that's true, it doesn't mean they hate SpaceX.

Offline Comga

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Re: Landsat Keep it or Scap it?
« Reply #7 on: 11/29/2010 05:41 AM »
If I were in charge, I would have NASA publish the requirements for the Landsat dataset, and simply contract with private companies to provide similar data, on an ongoing basis.

As long as earth resources data is provided by a program/project, its going to be very expensive.


This is not just your idea.  This was, in fact, pretty much the way it was going to happen, although data buys are not necessarily "pure".  (Check out SeaWIFS.)   

However, that was not politically acceptable.  The program was stopped, and the mission un-reorganized to more resemble the old Landsat programs, with GSFC (and USGS not NOAA) firmly in the loop again.

The next generation instrument, called the Operational Landsat Imager, is currently being tested at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, CO.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline truth is life

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Re: Landsat Keep it or Scap it?
« Reply #8 on: 12/02/2010 11:33 PM »
Your question in a way has already been answered. There will be both a satellite and a new sensor system. The next one, Landsat Data Continuity Mission, is planing on being launched in 2012. The new sensor is a push broom type so the failure with the SLC that have plagued 7 won't be a problem.

Wait, "Data Continuity Mission"? Haven't they been talking about that since the '80s? (Or am I just going senile in my youth?)

Anyways, I'd say the Landsat program has proven its worth by now, and definitely deserves continuation.

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