Thousands of never-before-seen data products from the US Landsat satellites acquired over 30 years have been released for online access. In addition, the newest data over Europe from the latest satellite in the series, Landsat-8, are now accessible in near-real time through a new portal hosted by ESA.
About 150 000 new products from the Landsat-5 satellite are available for direct download, free of charge. The products from the satellite’s Thematic Mapper instrument were acquired by the Kiruna ground station in northern Sweden between 1983 and 2011.
ESA recently completed reprocessing the data at a higher quality than ever before. The products are now aligned with those from the Landsat-8 satellite, paving the way for ESA’s provision of data from the latest satellite in the series.
The next phase of Landsat archive processing will include the rest of ESA’s unique data holdings, including all Thematic Mapper data acquired by the Matera (Italy) and Maspalomas (Canary Islands, Spain) stations.
Data from the Enhanced Thematic Mapper on Landsat-7 and the Multispectral Scanner on the first five Landsat missions, dating back more than 40 years, will also be processed. These products will gradually become available over the course of 2014.
At least half a million new, high-quality data products are expected from this overall endeavour. The project was funded by ESA’s Earthnet programme, which has supported access to non-ESA missions for more than 30 years.
Following the launch of Landsat-8 earlier this year, ESA has been the first international partner certified to acquire Landsat-8 data at its Neustrelitz station in Germany. A new portal that supplies systematic data from the mission over Europe within three hours of acquisition is now open.
“We are so glad to make this dataset now available freely and openly to the user community, especially since Landsat is an important heritage mission in preparation of the future Sentinel-2 mission,” said Bianca Hoersch, Third Party and Sentinel-2 Mission Manager.
Sentinel-2, being developed for the Copernicus programme, will deliver high-resolution optical images, providing enhanced continuity of Landsat-type data, but with a higher number of channels and a broader scanning swath. Launch is foreseen in 2014.
The Landsat programme is jointly managed by NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS). ESA supports the Landsat series as a Third Party Mission, meaning it uses its ground infrastructure and expertise to acquire, process and distribute Landsat data to users.
Now that the data have been extracted from the archive, ESA will begin to provide copies of the data holdings to USGS to support their global archive consolidation.
“The opening of the ESA Landsat archive – one of the largest international Landsat archives – and support to the USGS Landsat Global Archive Consolidation initiative will have a tremendous impact to the global Landsat community, increasing data access for scientific research and applications for future generations to come,” said Steven T. Labahn, Landsat International Ground Station Network Manager.