It has long been recognized that the success of the Landsat program would depend on an effective distribution of its data to a wide variety of users, worldwide, in a timely manner. Since 1972, nearly $250 million worth of data have been distributed by a network of ground stations around the world. The policies of the U.S. Government affecting the distribution, availability, and pricing of Landsat data have been controversial, and have been strongly affected by the attempts to commercialize the program. At the present time, data are being distributed in the U.S. by either government or commercial entities, depending on the date of acquisition of the data in question and whether or not the customer is affiliated with the Federal Government. Although the future distribution of Landsat data is currently under discussion, it seems likely that data distribution initially will be the responsibility of NOAA. In any case, the long-term archive and distribution of all Landsat data will be the responsibility of the Department of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey.
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The availability of Landsat data: Past, present, and future