Australia joins US satellite initiative for Landsat 2030 international partnership

Australia joins US satellite initiative for Landsat 2030 international partnership

The Australian government has committed to participating in Landsat Next, a groundbreaking satellite initiative spearheaded by NASA and the US Geological Survey. This programme aims to comprehensively map and monitor Earth's dynamic surface, offering invaluable support for diverse sectors such as mining exploration, climate observation, environmental monitoring, agriculture assessment and disaster management. Madeleine King, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, formalized Australia's involvement in the Landsat Next programme by signing an in-principle agreement during a recent visit to Washington.

Landsat Next builds upon nearly 50 years of a strong partnership in Earth observations between Geoscience Australia and the United States Geological Survey, anchored in Alice Springs, Australia. This initiative ensures continued Australian access to the next generation of Landsat satellite data, promising unprecedented image quality and detail.

26 spectral bands

Consisting of three identical satellites, Landsat Next will feature instruments capable of detecting 26 spectral bands across visible and infrared light, a significant leap from the current Landsat 9 programme. These enhanced capabilities will empower scientists, farmers, businesses and others to more effectively observe, predict and manage various phenomena, including algal blooms, crop stress, snow and ice cover changes, and bushfires.

Landsat Next is also set to gather higher-resolution and more detailed images of Earth’s surface than have ever been available before. Landsat Next will image objects as small as 10 metres wide, or about the width of a tennis court.

Australia will commit AUD207.4 million over four years and ongoing funding to the project, going towards enhancing satellite ground station facilities in Alice Springs and new advanced data processing and analytics capabilities.

Selfie of Australia

Minister King said the agreement builds on Australia’s near 50-year partnership in the Landsat programme through Geoscience Australia: “Landsat data is vital for industries such as mining and agriculture and is an essential tool in managing natural disasters." She added: “Landsat data supported emergency services in Queensland in January to help mitigate potential flooding in Queensland ahead of Cyclone Kirrily.”

The minister expressed her delight about the continuation of this partnership with the US for decades to come. “The Landsat Next satellites will mean we can monitor Australia’s lands and coasts from space. It is the biggest and best selfie we could take of our great country.”

Australia has a long history of involvement in the Landsat satellite programme dating back to the early 1970s.  The Landsat Next programme is currently planned for launch in 2030.

This image showcases a portion of the first Landsat 8 scene acquired in May 2013 over Western Australia. Produced by Geoscience Australia, an active participant in the Landsat International cooperation and a member of the Landsat Science team, this enhanced representation vividly captures the region's terrain.
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