Satellite land remotely sensed data are used by scientists and resource managers world-wide to study similar multidisciplinary earth science problems. Most of their information requirements can be met by a small number of satellite sensor types. Moderate-resolution resource satellites and low-resolution environmental satellites are the most prominent of these, and they are the focus of this paper. Building, launching, and operating satellite systems are very expensive endeavors. Consequently, nations should change the current pattern of independently launching and operating similar, largely redundant resource and environmental satellite systems in favor of true and full collaboration in developing, launching, operating, and sharing the data from such systems of the future. The past decade has seen encouraging signs of increasing international collaboration in earth remote sensing, but full collaboration has not yet been attempted. A general strategy to achieve such international collaboration is presented here, including discussion of potential obstacles, ideas for organizing and overseeing the long-term process toward collaboration, and short-term objectives whereby early successes critical to accomplishing long-term goals can be achieved.
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International collaboration: The cornerstone of satellite land remote sensing in the 21st century