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The purpose of this report is to describe the remote sensing

activities in the Department of the Interior that relate to current and

future space programs and to show how these activities contribute to

the needs of society.

The Department of the Interior is responsible for much of the Nation's

public lands and for maintaining an appropriate balance between the use

and conservation of natural resources on these lands.

Effective resource

management and research require accurate and timely data, whether collected

on the ground, from aircraft, or from satellites.

In some investigations

data from more than one level of observation and from various sensors such

as multispectral scanners, cameras, and radars are useful.

To collect

data, the Department relies on aircraft for acquiring aerial photography,

carrying experimental airborne instruments, and executing programs such

as selection of utility corridors, cadastral surveys, and resource


The need for surveying and repetitive monitoring of vast and often

inaccessible areas has also created a growing interest in the Department

in satellite data.' Currently, the Department is making use of data

acquired by the experimental Landsat system, because of its synoptic,

repetitive, and uniform coverage.

Digitally processed Landsat data are

permitting extraction of information by computerized techniques.


of the flexibility that digital data offer in collecting and managing

large volumes of information, resource managers in some bureaus of the

Department are now incorporating this new technology on a limited basis


into their activities.

The material presented in this paper:

shows how the EROS Program applies, demonstrates, and

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distributes remotely sensed data

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gives examples of how space technology is used in remote

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missions that have been approved for operation but have not

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U.S. Geological Survey personnel who made major contributions to

this report are:

W. D. Carter, Morris Deutsch, W. A. Fischer,

W. R. Hemphill, R. Y. Herbert, Richard Paulson, Robert Regan,

C. J. Robinove, G. A. Thorley, and R. S. Williams, Jr.

Robert Hansen from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation also prepared

a section of this paper.


The need for surveying and repetitive monitoring of vast, commonly

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inaccessible areas has created a growing interest in the Department of

the Interior in remote sensing technology, especially data acquired

from Earth resource satellites.

The Department established the Earth

Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Program in 1966

to assist in implementing use of remote sensing technology in

operational programs of the Department;

- to conduct and encourage research in new uses of remote sensing


to provide user assistance and training in remote sensing;

- to provide for data archiving, retrieval, reproduction, and

distribution of remotely sensed data and related information.

The EROS Program is currently cooperating with

the Bureau of Mines to develop a routine system using Landsat

data to monitor strip mines;

the Mining Enforcement and Safety Administration to correlate

linear features observed on Landsat imagery with roof falls in

underground mines;

the Bureau of Land Management in experimenting with the use of

Landsat data to classify range and forest vegetation;

the Bureau of Reclamation in the use of data from Geostationary

Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) to facilitate cloud

seeding and local weather prediction;

the Pacific Northwest Regional Commission and the States of Idaho,

Oregon, and Washington in the uses of Landsat data in resource


Other current activities of the EROS Program include experimental

use of Landsat data

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for studying shallow (<40 meters) sea features in the poorly

mapped areas of the U.S. Trust Territories in the western Pacific;

for evaluation of Landsat as the primary reconnaissance tool

for assessing grazing capabilities and other land use; and

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for compilation of an image atlas of glaciers of the world.

A key facility of the EROS Program is the EROS Data Center (EDC)

in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

A major function of EDC is training of

resource specialists and land managers in the use of Landsat and other

remotely sensed data.

A total of approximately 650 trainees participate

in some 20 courses and 30 workshops each year.

An important adjunct

to formal training courses is the Data Analysis Laboratory, which employs

the latest computerized and optical data analysis techniques, and which

has become one of the finest facilities of its kind in the world.

The EROS Data Center is also the principal archive for remotely

sensed data acquired by Geological Survey and NASA aircraft and data

acquired by Landsat, Skylab, Apollo, and Gemini spacecraft. Since its

establishment in 1972, EDC has distributed nearly 2 million reproductions

from a data base of nearly 6 million images.

Dollar value of data

produced totals $8 million, more than 60 percent of which has been from


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