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EARTH RESOURCES OBSERVATION SYSTEMS PROGRAM
To facilitate the use of current and future space systems, 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 responsibilities of the Department. The primary areas of activity are:
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.
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Application demonstration and research
EROS Program scientists seek new applications of remote sensing to significant resource and environmental problems, commonly in cooperation with other organizations. One example is the Pacific Northwest Land Resources Inventory Demonstration Project, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Regional Commission (PNRC) in cooperation with the EROS Program, the Geography Program of GS, and NASA. This project has demonstrated the utility of Landsat data for a number of resource management problems in the States of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. It is estimated that use of Landsat data will permit a forest inventory of western Washington (40,500 square kilometers) to be completed in one half the time and at one tenth the cost of standard methods. A survey monitoring urban change was done with 98 percent accuracy in 1 man-month using Landsat data versus 15 man-years using standard methods. Because of the useful results already achieved, an operational resource inventory system in the Pacific Northwest based on the use of Landsat data is being planned by the Land
Resources Inventory Task Force of the PNRC.
Additional EROS Program demonstration and research activities
8. Development of techniques for monitor of large strip mine changes using Landsat, in cooperation with the Bureau of Mines; Correlation of "lineaments" observed on Landsat imagery with roof falls in underground mines, in cooperation with the Mine Enforcement and Safety Administration;
Experimenting with methods for using Landsat to classify range
and forest vegetation, in cooperation with NASA and the Bureau of Land Management;
d. Use of imagery from the Geostationary Operational Environmental
Satellites (GOES) to observe distribution and temperature of
clouds, in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation;
e. Experimental use of Landsat imagery for producing land systems maps for assessment of land use potential;
f. Experimental use of Landsat data for monitoring changes in
8. Compilation of a Landsat image atlas of glaciers of the world; h. Experimental use of luminescence as a means for identifying a variety of natural and man-made materials from aircraft and
User assistance and training
A major function of the EROS Data Center (EDC) is to provide training to resource specialists and land managers in the use of Landsat and other remotely sensed data. In Fiscal Year 1977, there were 650 participants in technical programs, including 17 discipline-oriented courses, 30 workshops, 1 symposium, and 3 courses in digital techniques. In addition, there were 120 foreign attendees at the 8th and 9th International Workshops given at EDC, and two similar courses given in Buenos Aires. The EDC staff also cooperated with NASA and the Water Resources Division of GS in conducting two workshops on the use of Landsat and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite data collection platforms in Bolivia and Chile.
An important adjunct to formal training courses is the Data Analysis
Laboratory that has become a focal point for developing and demonstrating new remote-sensing techniques.
Extensive use of the Data Analysis Laboratory
was made this year in training personnel from Bureaus of Land Management,
Reclamation, and Mines in developing applications using both digitally processed Landsat and aerial imagery. Technical guidance was made available
in the use of three interactive computerized image analysis systems, as well as densitometers, color additive viewers, zoom transfer scopes, and stereoviewers. The Data Analysis Laboratory has become one of the finest facilities in the world for the analysis of digitally processed imagery.
Data reproduction and distribution
Since its establishment in 1972, EDC has distributed approximately 1.8 million reproductions from the nearly 6 million images presently in the data base. Half the reproductions were Landsat images, and in addition to images, nearly 6,000 computer-compatible tapes of Landsat data were supplied to users.
Digital image processing systems are being readied by NASA and EDC to provide products from Landsat-C data, expected in 1978, which will be superior to those from Landsats-1 and -2.
During 1977, about 175 Landsat images were computer enhanced on a special order basis; these images approximate the quality that will be routinely available with the new
Dollar volume of all products sold in 1977 amounted to about $2,500,000. Landsat products, while comprising only 18 percent of the data base, accounted for $1,674,000 or 67 percent of the total sales. Of that total,
sales of digitally enhanced scenes amounted to $137,000, and computercompatible tapes $374,000. These products were more than 30 percent of the total Landsat sales, reflecting the increasing trend toward digital processing of Landsat data. Industrial and foreign users were the principal purchasers of Landsat data, accounting for approximately 32 and 27 percent, respectively, of the total sales. The Federal Government was the next largest category, at about 24 percent.
The principal application by industry is in mineral exploration and related geologic mapping activities by major petroleum and mining companies. Of the 145 energy-related industries on the Forbes list of U. S. industries, 122 ordered data from EDC during Fiscal Years 1976 and 1977; 53 of these showed a highly repetitive ordering pattern, either in new orders for different areas, or in standing orders for new data of the
National Cartographic Information Center
EDC also supports the availability of information from the National Cartographic Information Center (NCIC), a facility of GS which provides cartographic data and aerial photographs from Federal, State, and private organizations as well as data collection plans of those organizations. To facilitate the purchase of imagery from satellites and aircraft by the public, a number of NCIC offices located throughout the country are connected by remote terminals to the central computer complex at EDC.