Since 1972, the joint NASA/ U.S. Geological Survey Landsat series of Earth Observation satellites have provided an uninterrupted space-based data record of the Earth’s land surface to help advance scientific research towards the understanding of our planet and the environmental impact of its inhabitants. Early Landsat satellites offered a wealth of new data that improved mapping of remote areas and geologic features along with digital analysis of vegetation. The utility of Landsat’s spatial and spectral resolution has advanced its use for applications that benefit society such as global crop forecasting, forest monitoring, water use, carbon assessments, and the base for Google Maps. Landsat’s long-term data record provides an unrivaled resource for observing land cover and land-use change over a timescale of decades. The free and open Landsat data policy in 2008 was a paradigm shift for the world. Today, due to improved analytical and computing capabilities, the Landsat archive is poised to shift into a more real-time monitoring and understanding of the Earth.