Landsat satellites have been operating since 1972, providing a continuous global record of the Earth’s land surface. The imagery is currently available at no cost through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Social scientists at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center conducted an extensive survey in early 2012 to explore who uses Landsat imagery, how they use the imagery, and what the value of the imagery is to them. The survey was sent to all users registered with USGS who had accessed Landsat imagery in the year prior to the survey and over 11,000 current Landsat imagery users responded. The results of the survey revealed that respondents from many sectors use Landsat imagery in myriad project locations and scales, as well as application areas. The value of Landsat imagery to these users was demonstrated by the high importance of and dependence on the imagery, the numerous environmental and societal benefits observed from projects using Landsat imagery, the potential negative impacts on users’ work if Landsat imagery was no longer available, and the substantial aggregated annual economic benefit from the imagery. These results represent only the value of Landsat to users registered with USGS; further research would help to determine what the value of the imagery is to a greater segment of the population, such as downstream users of the imagery and imagery-derived products.
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USGS Numbered Series
Users, uses, and value of Landsat satellite imagery: results from the 2012 survey of users