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ASPRS Encourages Adoption of the National Land Imaging Program

August 10, 2011
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The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) is working actively to support establishment of the National Land Imaging Program (NLIP), a long-range operational moderate resolution imaging program. For the past several years, ASPRS has strongly supported the NLIP strategy through continuing communication with the Administration and Congress, and fully endorses its immediate implementation.

On July 26, 2011, Ms. Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, U.S. Department of the Interior released the following email message on the status of NLIP:

“As most of you probably know, the President’s 2012 budget request included a new account for National Land Imaging within the USGS budget framework. The requested funding for this account totals $99.817 million, consisting of $40.15 for continuing land imaging work that has been regularly occurring in USGS, $13.35 million for the LDCM (Landsat 8) ground system development in preparation for the LDCM launch in December 2012, and $48.0 million for beginning development of Landsat 9. The House bill for the 2012 budget, H.R. 2584, which has passed the Appropriations Committee and will be debated this week on the House floor, proposes $51.817 for these same work areas, reducing the LDCM funding from $13.35 to $11.667 and eliminating any funding for commencement of Landsat 9. The Committee declined to establish a new, separate account for the National Land Imaging Program. The House report on the bill states, “The Committee supports the continuation of the Landsat Program beyond Landsat 8 and urges the Administration to submit a fiscal year 2013 budget that does not offset increases for Landsat with decreases elsewhere in the Survey’s budget.”

In 2007, the Bush Administration formulated a comprehensive strategy, designated the National Land Imaging Program (NLIP), to ensure long-term stability for moderate resolution satellite imaging (see August 2007 report released by the Executive Office of the President “A Plan for A U.S. National Land Imaging Program” available for download at: www.landimaging.gov/fli_iwg_report_print_ready_low_res.pdf ). The Obama Administration has embraced and reinforced that strategy by seeking funding within the Department of the Interior (DOI) budget to ensure the implementation of NLIP.

ASPRS has long agreed that establishing the DOI as the permanent manager of NLIP will ensure long-term program stability, since DOI has a vested interest in the future of land imaging, clearly defined requirements for the data, extensive experience in using the data, and an excellent track record of partnering with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the private sector on the current Landsat systems.

The Landsat series of satellites has provided nearly 40 years of standardized multispectral images of the Earth at moderate spatial resolution. Landsat has been, by far, the world’s most successful remote sensing program dedicated to civilian land observations from space. No other data set collected by the U.S., or any other nation, allows for the assessment of continuous human interactions with the land so effectively over such a long period of time. NLIP will continue the stellar record of this satellite series.

The demand for moderate resolution satellite imagery never ceases. Its numerous operational uses include defense/intelligence community support, disaster assessment, mineral exploration, water rights monitoring, crop estimates, wildfire risk assessment, coastal change analysis, and irrigation management. Respondents to a user survey conducted in 2007 by ASPRS estimated the economic impact to their clients if moderate resolution imagery were not available to be $1.278 billion per year. Imagery collected by these systems is critical to the well-being of our Nation-in all areas of economic security, food security and national security.

ASPRS supports the NLIP strategy, and members of ASPRS are in the process of contacting their congressional representatives in order to inform and educate them on the need to assure the continuous long-term operation of the Nation’s moderate resolution land remote sensing satellites.

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