Benefits of the free and open Landsat data policy – ScienceDirect

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.