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Foreign users and industry are the principal purchasers of Landsat
data, each accounting for about 30 percent of total sales.
145 energy-related industries on the Forbes list, 122 have ordered data
from EDC during the past two years; 53 of these show
ordering pattern suggesting continuing operational use of the data.
Earth resource satellites to be launched in the near future, and
which are of interest to the Department of the Interior, include
Landsats-C and -D, Magsat, and Seasat.
Landsat-C will include a thermal
band in the multispectral scanner which is expected to markedly increase
wledge of the dynamic surface properties of the Earth and be of great
significance to the geological, hydrological, oceanographic, and
Landsat-D will include a new multispectral scanner, called the
Thematic Mapper, that will provide images in more spectral bands and of
higher resolution than Landsats-1, -2, and -C.
Data from this new
scanner will be used for experi
ental purposes within the Department.
Several years of research will be required to modify analysis capabilities
and to bring the use of Thematic Mapper data to the same level of maturity
now current for Multispectral Scanner data.
The Geological Survey and NASA have cooperated in the analysis of
existing satellite magnetometer data, and have produced a preliminary
magnetic anomaly map of the world.
One of the most striking anomalies,
discovered through this research, is located in central Africa and is
associated with several major mineral deposits.
An improved magnetometer
satellite, Magsat, is scheduled for launch in September 1979, and is
expected to provide the necessary information for more detailed
geological studies, and for improved field models and charts.
Seasat, to be launched in spring 1978, will provide the first
opportunity to evaluate the usefulness of space-acquired radar sensors to
ongoing resource and environmental missions of the Department, especially
to monitoring of polar ice and analysis of coastal environments.
Longer term research and development in the use of Earth resource
satellite data is also needed. Although some weakly visible stereoscopic
coverage is provided by Landsat, the areal extent of this coverage is
limited to as little as 20 percent of an individual scene at the equator.
Some petroleum and mining companies, and other industrial groups, recognize
a need to acquire stereoscopic coverage for all the land areas of the
world. Stereoscopic coverage would facilitate the analysis of subtle
landform features, drainage, and geologic structure, especially in some
areas where strata are low dipping.
Luminescence is the property of some materials to emit light when
excited by external stimuli such as ultraviolet lamps or the sun.
stimulated luminescence of a variety of geologic, agricultural, and
pollution materials has been detected with airborne equipment developed
by NASA and the EROS Program. Preliminary studies show that instrumentation
capable of imaging luminescence and operating from the Space Shuttle is
Sensitivity would be comparable to the existing aircraft
system which permits detection of luminescence Intensities several
orders of magnitude below that seen with the naked eye.
Although data acquired by sensors in the visible and infrared parts
of the spectrum have been very successful, acquisition of data is hampered
by clouds and inclement weather.
Microwave systems not only are much
less weather dependent, but would also provide data from another part
of the spectrum. The National Academy of Sciences has recommended
proceeding with ground and aircraft studies that may lead to a spacebome
Imaging microwave program.
Geological and geophysical studies have shown that movements of
large parts of the Earth's crust have taken place during geologic time.
Occurrence of mineral and energy resources is closely linked to geologic
structure associated with these movements.
The Laser Geodynamic
Satellite (LAGEOS) was launched in May 1976. This satellite is a
sphere 60 cm in diameter fitted with several hundred mirrors to reflect
light from lasers aimed from the Earth.
Laser ranging is expected to
permit precision measurement of intercontinental distances with accuracies
of less than 5 cm.
In many cases, it will require a decade or more of
data acquisition to establish the precise rates of crustal motions.
The Geological Survey's programs in Lunar and Planetary studies
have shifted from direct scientific support of lunar landings during the
Apollo era to analysis of data from miss
ons to Mars, Mercury, Venus,
Jupiter, and Saturn.
This exploration is directed toward a comparison
of the geologic materials, processes, and history of these planets with
Earth in order to achieve insight into development of the Earth's crust
and processes that affect land, mineral, and energy resources.
Purpose and scope
This paper was prepared at the request of Congressman Olin E. Teague,
Chairman, Committee on Science and Technology, House of Representatives,
as background to that Committee's hearings on January 24, 25, and 26,
The objective of the hearings is "... to review current
Administration planning and the range of opportunities which exist for
future space programs."
This paper reviews some of the Department of the Interior's
current activities in the use of Earth resource data collected by
satellite, anticipated use of data from Earth satellite missions which
have been approved but not yet flown, opportunities for longer-term
research in the use of Earth resource data, and current status and
near future (1980's) outlook for exploration of the planets.
EARTH RESOURCES OBSERVATION SYSTEMS PROGRAM
To facilitate the use of current and future space systems, the
Interior Department established the Earth Resources Observation Systems
(EROS) Program in 1966.
The purpose of the EROS Program is to develop,
demonstrate, and encourage applications of remotely sensed data acquired
from aircraft and spacecraft which are relevant to functional responsi
The Interior Department seeks to take maximum advantage of space
technology to fulfill its responsibilities commensurate with economy
and efficiency. Research using space data and technology has led to
beneficial uses within the Department and provision of space data to
some organizations with similar responsibilities in State and local
governments as well as foreign countries. Along with use of the technology
goes the fundamentally important task of assuring that the needs of the
Interior Department are known by the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) and that NASA's space research and development is
aimed at meeting those needs.
The EROS Program discusses with NASA
the results of present space technology use, the improvements needed
in present systems, Interior's identified information needs, and the
design of new systems to meet those needs.
The key facility of the EROS Program is the EROS Data Center (EDC)
in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the principal archive for remotely sensed
data collected by U.S. Geological Survey (GS) aircraft, by NASA
research aircraft, and by Landsat, Skylab, Apollo, and Gemini spacecraft.