Landsat Civil Agency Requirements Working Group
Wednesday, February 24, 1999
National Center Auditorium
U.S. Geological Survey
Reston, Virginia

The meeting was opened at 1:10 pm by Larry Pettinger, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), who welcomed the attendees to the USGS National Center in Reston. He introduced R. J. Thompson, USGS Landsat-7 Program Manager, who chaired the meeting. R.J. explained that USGS and NASA had agreed that USGS should assume responsibility for organizing and chairing the LCARWG. He noted that USGS intended to reinvigorate the Working Group by meeting on a regular basis and emphasizing the original purpose of the Working Group which is to determine requirements of the civil agencies for Landsat-type and other satellite remotely sensed data. A list of attendees is at the end of the minutes.

Comments on Landsat Program Transition and Management Strategy:
Cheryl Yuhas, Landsat Program Manager, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), described the major change that is taking place in the Landsat Program Management (LPM) partnership. Because of a collective desire for a more stable funding scenario for Landsat-7 operations, USGS is assuming the responsibilities from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for managing the operation of Landsat 7. A letter confirming this decision has been signed by NASA, NOAA, and USGS and sent to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) (copy distributed). Cheryl noted that Granville Paules will take over as the Landsat-7 Program Manager.

Ray Byrnes, USGS, elaborated on the changes being made to expand the USGS responsibilities for Landsat-7 operation. He explained that OSTP is working to revise the Presidential Decision Directive that guides the Landsat program, and he reviewed the current, near-term (FY 2000), and future (FY 2001) USGS funding strategy for Landsat 7. He expressed appreciation to NOAA for its role in Landsat operations, especially in the management of Landsat 4-5 operations.

Landsat 4/5 Status:
Ray Byrnes, USGS, explained that USGS will be assuming responsibility for the NOAA contract with Space Imaging for the operation of Landsats 4 and 5. He noted that March 2 would be the 15th anniversary of Landsat 5, which has greatly exceeded its design lifetime, providing continuity of data in spite of the launch failure of Landsat 6. It was noted that the current plan is for Landsat 7 to operate on a 4- and 12-day repeat cycle with Landsat 5. There was discussion that perhaps flying the two satellites on a 8-day repeat cycle would provide more effective coverage. Agencies were invited to send comments regarding this issue to R.J. Thompson by February 27 (Action #1). [It was later determined that the Landsat-7 orbit would be set to be 8 days out of phase with Landsat 5.] Jim Irons, NASA, agreed to determine if the orbit of the EOS AM-1 platform (to be launched later this year) could be synchronized with and 8-day Landsat-7 repeat cycle (Action #2).

USGS National Satellite Land Remote Sensing Data Archive (NSLRSDA) Status:
R.J. Thompson, USGS, reported that the system for converting early (1972-82) Landsat Multispectral Scanner (MSS) data from unreadable Wide-Band Video Tape (WBVT) to current readable media would begin operating in about one month (see briefing charts). NASA provided funding to build the conversion system and USGS will provide operations funding and staff. Approximately 300,000 MSS scenes that are currently unreadable will be converted to an archive medium and format that will make these early data available to users.

Landsat-7 Status:
Space Segment, Launch Schedule: Jim Irons, NASA, confirmed that the launch of Landsat 7 is scheduled for Thursday, April 15. The system is expected to be operational by July 1 (see briefing charts). Jim reported that two Enhanced Thematic Mapper + (ETM+) system parameters will not meet the established specifications. "Level 1 Requirements Waivers" have been requested from NASA Headquarters acknowledging that 1) the spatial resolution of the panchromatic band at the end of life will be approximately 18 meters rather than the 15-meter specification and 2) the image swath width will be 183 rather than 185 km.

Ground Segment:

  1. Jim Irons, NASA, reported that the Ground Data System is ready for launch and 60-day checkout period support (see briefing charts). Major emphasis is being placed on implementing the capabilities of the EOSDIS Core System to achieve the required performance levels, including processing of Level 0-R data.
  2. R.J. Thompson, USGS, summarized the status of ground system development activities at the EROS Data Center where Landsat-7 data reception, archiving, processing, and distribution will occur. He described the various system integration and test activities that have been completed or are planned. The final draft Landsat-7 data policy is still being reviewed by NASA and USGS managers. R.J. presented a summary of the standard Landsat-7 products that will be made available to users, including product type, number of scenes that can be produced per day, format, media, and price. Previously announced prices will be in effect through FY 2000; as USGS gains experience in Landsat-7 data distribution, it is possible that the volume of data sold and the cost of fulfilling user requests will be such that data prices can be reduced.

Landsat Science Team Report:
Jim Irons, NASA, described the purpose of the Landsat Science Team, which was formed in 1996 through a competitive NASA Research Announcement. The Team will 1) characterize the performance of the Landsat imaging instruments, 2) advance the application of Landsat data, and 3) offer advice to NASA and USGS on the management of Landsat 7 and defining, developing, and operating follow-on Landsat systems.

Jim described the Long Term Acquisition Plan that the Team has developed to achieve the primary Landsat-7 mission goal of creating a U.S.-held archive of sun-lit, cloud-free ETM+ data providing global coverage of the Earth's continental and coastal surfaces, refreshed on a periodic (seasonal) basis. While the system has the opportunity to collect approximately 875 scenes per day, satellite system resources and cloud cover will allow the EROS Data Center to acquire and archive a maximum of 250 scenes per day. The network of International Ground Stations will also be acquiring data through direct downlink. While the collection of Landsat data to populate a global archive is the primary goal, data acquisition will give higher priority to meeting satellite health and safety requirements and national security and environmental hazard needs. USGS and NASA are deciding how to accommodate the tasking requests of other users.

Landsat-7 Follow-on Planning:
Bryant Cramer, NASA, described efforts that are underway to identify options for building and operating a Landsat-7 follow-on system. The Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 requires that Landsat Program Management assess and report to the Congress on follow-on system options. If a system can be built by the private sector that satisfies the goals stated in the Act, then preference should be given to such a system over other options. NASA and USGS personnel are documenting a spectrum of such options, ranging from a data buy from a commercial operator, to a hybrid government/commercial system, to a government-funded and - operated mission as is being done for Landsat 7. A lively discussion ensued on the advantages and limitations of these options and how the various options would impact the entire spectrum of data users, including the value-added industry segment and the international community.

Requirements Development:
As part of its expanded Landsat-7 role, Dennis Hood, USGS, is leading an effort to gather and analyze Landsat-7 data requirements of the civil agencies (and eventually a broader spectrum of the Landsat user community). He distributed a draft survey and received comments ranging from keeping the initial scope narrow and manageable to broadening it to include other types of remote sensing systems. It was noted that multiple product surveys are complex to administer and analyze. Attendees agreed that agency representatives should provide any comments to Dennis by Friday, March 5. Comments will be incorporated and the survey will be distributed to civil agency representatives.

Future Role of LCARWG:
The meeting concluded with a discussion of the appropriate future scope of this meeting. There was support for continuing to focus the meeting on Landsat issues and encouraging the civil agencies to engage in a more lively dialogue with Landsat Program Management (now USGS and NASA) about a full spectrum of issues. It was noted that information requirements drive the use of remotely sensed data, so that we should be talking about the information requirements as well as applications that could be pursued with data from current and proposed Landsat systems. There were also comments in support of expanding the scope of the meeting to cover other remote sensing capabilities. It was suggested that the meeting could be expanded to an all-day format that could devote substantial time to Landsat topics as well as other remote sensing issues.

Next Meeting:
It was agreed that the LCARWG should continue to meet quarterly, and that the next meeting would be scheduled in May at the USGS National Center in Reston, Virginia.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:30 pm.


  1. Agency representatives to send comments to R.J. Thompson, USGS, by February 27 regarding options for synchronizing the orbits of Landsats 5 and 7 to either a 4- and 12-day or a 8-day repeat cycle. [it was later determined that the Landsat-7 orbit would be set to be 8 days out of phase with Landsat 5.]
  2. Jim Irons, NASA, to determine if the orbit of the EOS AM-1 platform can be synchronized with and 8-day Landsat-7 repeat cycle.
  3. Agency representatives to send comments of the draft Landsat-7 requirements survey to Dennis Hood, USGS, by Friday, March 5.


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[Minutes prepared by Larry Pettinger, USGS, Reston, VA]