Landsat for the 21st Century


Using currently available technology and operational procedures it is possible to build a Landsat system that has significantly better spatial, spectral, and temporal resolution than the current Landsat.  The key characteristic of the 21st Century Landsat is that it acquires information rather than data.  The system primarily observes land areas that have changed or are changing.


The 21st Century Landsat will maintain Landsat data continuity as well as being a source of near real-time Earth observations.  Using off-the-shelf proven technologies and operational procedures that have been demonstrated in many satellite systems, the system will produce information that is of higher quality, greater relevance, and is easier to use.  Modern information acquisition, processing, and distribution systems would expedite the availability of information to the users.


The final benefit of the 21st Century Landsat is that it would be significantly more cost-effective than the current Landsat.  Design studies have shown that a constellation of 5 satellites would provide the optimum performance at a significantly lower cost than the current single satellite system.


If steps are not taken to update the Landsat system, it is in danger of becoming irrelevant, except as a source of historical data, as newer and better Earth observing systems become available.


Information on projects that led to the development of the Landsat for the 21st Century can be found at: and


John Bolton


Full Spectral Imaging



Related Articles:

And now for something completely different – A Landsat for the 21st century

Landsat Data Continuity

Landsat Autonomy

Landsat Data vs. Information

Justification for commercialization of land remote sensing


Landsat Alternatives (Major):

Silicon Valley Remote Sensing Satellites

ALOS-2 (Characteristics)

CERES (Characteristics)

Deimos-2 (Characteristics)

DMCii (Characteristics)

EROS B (Characteristics)

Flock 1 (Characteristics)

HySpecIQ (Characteristics)

KOMPSat-3A (Characteristics)

OmniEarth (Characteristics)

Pléiades (Characteristics)

SENTINEL-2 (Characteristics)

Skybox Imaging (Characteristics)

Terra Bella  (Characteristics)

WorldView-3 (Characteristics)


Others (Minor):

China–Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (Characteristics)

CubeSat (Characteristics)






Kuaizhou I




Resurs-P (47KS)




Yaogan Weixing (遥感卫星), Remote Sensing Satellite


For details of Landsat alternatives see: Characteristics of Related Instruments


Useful Landsat Related Links:

Global Observatory for Ecosystem Services

Landsat and Beyond - Sustaining and Enhancing the Nation's Land Imaging Program

New NRC Report Calls for Sustained Landsat Program

The first ever picture of the US from space: Nasa reveals early high-resolution image of 48 states captured in 1974



This page was last modified on 6 June 2016