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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.
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.
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
distributes remotely sensed data
gives examples of how space technology is used in remote
sensing applications and in transmitting data from remote
describes potential applications of data to be collected by
missions that have been approved for operation but have not
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
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
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
for studying shallow (<40 meters) sea features in the poorly
eas 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
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