Landsat Earth as Art Imagery

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.


January 28, 2015 - We are pleased to announce that the following companies have been awarded contracts under Solicitation Number NNG15534681Q to carry out the Sustainable Land Imaging (SLI) Business Model Study:

  • Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, Boulder CO
  • The Boeing Company, El Segundo, CA
  • Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Greenbelt, MD
  • Millennium Space Systems, El Segundo, CA
  • Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, VA
  • Sierra Nevada Corporation, Louisville, CO
  • Space Systems/Loral, LLC, Palo Alto, CA
  • Surrey Satellite Technology US LLC, Englewood, CO
The study focuses on investigating various aspects of business models that may enable more efficient implementation of the SLI program objectives to continue Landsat heritage measurements. During the four-month study period, participants will be assessing:
  • Key GSFC procurement documents (e.g., MAR, GEVS, Gold Rules, SOW, CDRL) vs. commercial technical and business practices.
  • Historical development cost and schedule performance differences and on-orbit reliability differences between government and commercially acquired space systems.
  • Business models for potential application to future SLI missions.

September 5, 2014 - We are pleased to announce that the following companies have been awarded contracts under Solicitation Number NNG14518373Q to carry out the Sustainable Land Imaging (SLI) Reduced Instrument Envelope Study:

  • Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation of Boulder, CO
  • Exelis Inc., Geospatial Systems of Fort Wayne, IN
  • Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company of Greenbelt, MD
  • Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, Aerospace Systems of Redondo Beach, CA
  • Raytheon Company of El Segundo, CA
  • Surrey Satellite Technology US LLC of Englewood, CO

The study focuses on investigating mid-term capabilities and technologies for instruments that may enable more efficient implementation of the SLI program objectives to continue Landsat heritage measurements. The study contract awards are intended to enable contractors to perform a more detailed analysis of techniques and trends that lead to reduction in size and mass of spaceborne Earth-imaging instruments, potentially resulting in cost savings to the U.S. Government while still meeting the SLI program objectives. These studies will be of 6-month duration.

Additional Reference Documents
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