Since the late 1960s, the United States government has invested more than $1 billion in designing, launching, and operating the Landsat (land satellite) series of Earth-observing satellites. Global change researchers, geologists, and environmental scientists have used images gathered by the satellites for purposes ranging from human health research, energy exploration, and pollution detection to agricultural assessments, urban growth monitoring, and earthquake lineament studies. The earliest data were captured on a digital medium called wide-band video tape (WBVT). However, two decades of unsound media storage conditions and a poorly maintained processing system have left the physically deteriorating WBVTs with no mechanism for interpretation. A national treasure was in jeopardy. With seed money from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began a project to rescue the data. More than 21,000 tapes from the 1970s have been transcribed to stable, archival media, preserving the data for future studies in Earth System Science.