Despite the focus of recent media accounts
on new, commercial high resolution systems, data from the medium and low
resolution EO sensors are still of great scientific and commercial
utility. This symposium explored the range of applications for EO
satellite imagery in international affairs, and examined the policy issues
that derive from these applications. It also provided a forum for
discussing mechanisms to ensure the continuity of moderate-resolution EO
systems. The following paragraphs summarize the presentations and
discussions that occurred over the course of the symposium.
Welcome, Opening Remarks
HARRY HARDING, DEAN OF THE ELLIOTT SCHOOL
In his opening remarks, Dean Harding cited
the Space Policy Institute as a vibrant and important member of The George
Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. Dean Harding
what he considers the integralif not always obviouslink
between space policy and the broader study of international affairs. He
cited, for example, the long history of aerial reconnaissance, reaching
back the use of hot air balloons during the US civil war. Today's
space-based capabilitiesin particular, earth observationhave
achieved a technological level that has led to many new uses and new
political issues. During the Cold War, space-based technologies were used
in pursuit of conventional security. Now, security has numerous other
aspects, necessitating an examination of such varied factors as: the
economy, the environment, movement of people (refugees), spread of
disease, safeguarding of life and property. In this new environment,
space-based systems both help address international issues and pose new
challenges for the international community.
Remote Sensing and Foreign Policy
DAVID SANDALOW, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR OCEANS AND
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL AND SCIENTIFIC AFFAIRS
In his address at the symposium, Mr.
Sandalow delivered the following assessment of the utility of remote
sensing in international affairs. View speech.
Would US government policy of shutter control for commercial satellite
systems be effective in protecting national security?
that some companies had been critical of U.S. policy, but added that "time
Is there a possibility that the United States would provide free or low
cost imagery for countries that could not afford them?
replied that this question was highly relevant to realizing the long term
benefits of remotely sensed imagery. However, he noted that though imagery
costs have declined in recent years, a program of providing free data to
needy users would be difficult to pay for.
Cooperation and Collaboration in International Environmental Earth
GREG WITHEE, ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR, NOAA NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL
SATELLITE DATA AND INFORMATION SERVICE (NESDIS)
Mr. Withee began with an overview of
NOAA's perspectives and programs on Earth observation. NOAA's systems
include both polar-orbit satellites and geostationary satellites,
providing data especially useful for weather prediction and monitoring [http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov]. Its Polar-Orbiting
Environmental Satellite System (POESS) cover the entire Earth daily, over
a 6-hour timeframe. Its Geostationary Orbiting Environmental Satellite
System (GOES) of two satellites monitors environmental conditions over the
Americas between about 60 degrees north latitude to about 60 degrees south
latitude. Both provide low-resolution imagery (about 1 km) highly useful
to a variety of data users. NOAA and NESDIS cooperate with diverse
international partners. Cooperation with global partners helps ensure
continuity of satellites on orbit, better downlinks of data from
satellites, and the optimal use of satellite imagery for humanitarian
purposessuch as responding to disasters like volcanic eruptions,
hurricanes, or fire.
While their main purpose is the study and
prediction of future weather conditions, these satellites have numerous
additional uses, such as providing data on ozone concentration in the
upper atmosphere, supporting Department of Defense missions, monitoring
the sea surface temperature, performing ice analysis, measuring
vegetation, monitoring algal blooms and coral bleaching, and providing
numerous disaster response, monitoring and recovery services. NOAA/NESDIS
also uses commercial satellite systems when appropriate. NESDIS is
examining data buying policies to ensure that it can access all types of
satellite data from all sources.
NESDIS participates in a number of
international and national interagency cooperative agreements. Global
partnerships, such as one with Eumetsat, help the United States and Europe
provide much more capability to monitor global weather and climate. In
2005, Eumetsat will assume one of the satellite orbits currently
maintained by NESDIS. Doing so will ensure data continuity while reducing
NOAA's costs. NESDIS participates in the Committee on Earth Observation
Satellites (CEOS), in which data providing agencies and data user groups
meet to coordinate satellite systems in order to ensure the optimum
production and use of Earth observations data. NESDIS also takes part in
the Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS), a global forum where
nations with space programs meet to discuss issues related to Earth
observations. It also participates in the Global Disaster Information
Network (GDIN), which was established in April 2000. NOAA's data are
archived and made available to data users at the cost of reproduction and
distribution [http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov]. Mr. Withee noted that
although the wide proliferation of available sources of satellite imagery
may be difficult for policy makers in some cases, it is beneficial for
The Challenge of Delivering High Quality Environmental Information
for Land Applications
JAMES F. DEVINE, SENIOR ADVISOR FOR SCIENCE APPLICATIONS, U.S.
James Devine detailed several of USGS's
tasks. Under the broad mission of understanding and describing the Earth,
the USGS operates a Biological Information and Resources division, a
Hydrological Information division, a Geological Information division, and
a Geographic Information division [http://www.usgs.gov]. USGS uses satellite imagery and
data in a variety of ways in the course of fulfilling these missions.
The USGS has been involved with the
Landsat program since the 1960s. USGS and NASA share the management of
Landsat 7. Past archives of data, from Landsat 1-5, are also archived by
USGS and made available for users through the USGS EROS Data Center in
Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In recent years, data from SPOT and other land
observing satellites have been added to the USGS archives.
USGS is also involved with the Civilian
Applications Committee, which deals with use of classified systems and
data for civil uses. Non-classified or formerly classified data are
available, some of which could have significant value to the civilian
scientific community. Maximizing the value of classified assets
necessitates communication among civilian users and classified data
The future of Earth observation is likely
to lie in more rapid delivery of data and coverage of the Earth. Rapid
delivery of data can allow for effective monitoring of natural disasters
such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires.
Earth observation satellites are an
essential element of global monitoring. Moderate resolution images are
especially valuable, because a large archive of past imagery is available.
Mr. Devine pointed to Landsat 7 as an important source of inexpensive
moderate resolution imagery. As well, new analysis techniques allow for
cheaper and more efficient change detection.
THE FIVE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF GLOBAL MONITORING
DOUGLAS K. HALL, CEO, EARTHSAT
Douglas K. Hall focused on the importance
of moderate resolution remote sensing imagery, its diverse uses, and the
government-industry cooperation necessary to gather and use these data.
While recent attention has focused on high-resolution satellite imagery,
moderate resolution imagery remains essential, especially for
environmental and natural resource monitoring. Value-added companies can
increase the utility of this imagery by correcting sensor errors and
analyzing the imagery.
Mr. Hall listed Essential Elements for
Global Monitoring: (1) a Moderate Resolution Image (MRI) data base; (2)
access to historic global land cover from MRI; (3) inexpensive MRI, now
and in the future; (4) development of more effective land cover change
analysis techniques; and (5) development of the Valid Multi-Stage Sampling
Approach. Ensuring that moderate resolution imagery is affordable is
essential and means that the government must retain a role. If the
government maintains continuity of Landsat type data, then commercial
firms can focus on the value-added applications. Like many other
presenters, Mr. Hall essentially saw moderate resolution imagery as a
public good, and a key opportunity for valuable public-private
Moderate resolution imagery is essential
for global monitoring. The historical archive of Moderate Resolution
Imagery allows for change analysis. The Landsat series have been
particularly important for this, providing a large archive of such
imagery. This historical basis allows for analysis of land cover and land
cover changes over time. Now, data from the newer Landsats such as Landsat
7 can be compared with the early-era data. The basic essential elements
for successful global monitoring are possession of two data sets, and the
tools for comparison and analysis. Myriad firms are developing such tools,
which are beginning to make change analysis quicker and easier, and
increasing the utility of moderate resolution imagery.
works with several government agencies to develop data products and
analysis based on remotely sensed data. Cooperative government-industry
projects require specific agreements about data use and profits. For
example, in the GeoCover Ortho project, NASA has an unrestricted right to
copy, use and distribute all of the GeoCover Ortho products purchased
under the Science Data Buy. However, EarthSat itself owns the products.
EarthSat also works with NIMA on land cover classification and change.
Moderate resolution imagery is
increasingly emerging as essential for earth monitoring.
Government-private sector partnerships are more and more common in remote
sensing. Such partnerships allow the government to benefit from growing
private sector expertise, and the private sector to benefit from
government-gathered imagery. For global monitoring, such alliances are
RESPONDING TO ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES
Satellite Monitoring of Deforestation
ANTHONY JANETOS, WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE (WRI)
Dr. Janetos provided a concrete example of
the utility of Earth observation data from the perspective of a
non-governmental organization (NGO) by describing how WRI uses
satellite-derived data, in conjunction with other sources of data, to
monitor and understand changes in Earth's environment [http://www.wri.org]. He noted
that issues such as deforestation are especially complex, as they touch on
scientific, environmental, economic, national, regional and international
Global deforestation is a very real
problem, with forests being lost quite rapidly, as a result of drought,
agricultural clearing, and logging. Amazonia, Central Africa, and
South-East Asia are the three major centers of deforestation.
Forestsparticularly tropical and subtropical forestsare
important as biodiversity reservoirs, for their role in the planet's
carbon cycle, and in local and global ecosystems, and for the livelihoods
of people who live in and near them.
Understanding deforestation requires
measuring how much is occurring. Tree-cover and forest extent can be
readily detected from moderate resolution satellite imagery. WRI focuses
on monitoring the changes, determining the causes, and predicting the
consequences of deforestation. WRI documents change on local scales, and
over time, and examines the causes of natural or human-caused
deforestation. Satellite imagery can also help monitor change on local
scales. For example, Amazonian data, overlaid with a grid of land
ownership, has allowed for the monitoring of individual parcels of land.
Evidence of deforestation from satellite
imagery is useful because it provides an objective source of data, either
supporting or contradicting an individual nation's analysis of it own
environment. WRI participates in the Global Forest Watch, an international
network of groups that cooperate in using satellite and land ownership
data to understand the rate of change of forest cover. This information is
used to estimate the answers to two important questions: how much forest
does the earth currently support? How much forest does the earth need to
maintain a balanced, sustainable ecosystem?
Dr. Janetos stressed that not only does
remote sensing support scientific studies of deforestation, but it also
provides important information for policy makers. It is important to
enhance the application of satellite data, and to support basic science.
There should be an effort to extend the lessons learned through science to
the policy community. U.S. and international information policies need to
support public use of and access to useful scientific data. Satellite
information is useful at a variety of resolution levels.
Moderate-resolution imagery, such as that from Landsat 7, should be
considered a public good, made available to the public as close to free as
possible. A commitment to the continuation of Landsat-type data should
remain an integral part of the US space program.
Monitoring Natural Resource Changes in Senegal with Four Decades of
GRAY TAPPAN, RAYTHEON, USGS EROS DATA CENTER.
Mr. Tappan discussed the role of satellite
imagery in the long-term monitoring of Senegal, and of natural and human
Senegalese environmental features. Senegal has a diverse landscape, and
has undergone significant changes over the last half century. Monitoring
of the environment is particularly important because of the close
relationship between a healthy ecology and a healthy economy.
In mapping Senegal, Mr. Tappan and his
team used three levels of data collection: satellites, aircraft, and
ground-based sensors. This project made significant use of declassified
imagery. For example, the imagery collected by the Corona satellites
provides full coverage of Senegal from 1960 on. They also took into
account Senegal's dramatic population growth (from 1 million in 1900 to 9
million in 1990), the resultant expansion of agriculture, and the effects
of several recent droughts. Ground level assessment is an important part
of this program; data for this aspect are provided by multiple ground
monitoring stations. Interviews with local individuals also provided
valuable information for understanding why human patterns of land use have
changed over time.
Satellite imagery provides a graphic
record of the dramatic and often disturbing changes in Senegal's
environment. Mr. Tappan displayed satellite images directly illustrating
the changes in land cover and land use over several periods: a comparison
of area of forested land in 1965 and 1994; the impacts of the droughts of
1983 and 1996; the size and population of Dakar in 1988 and 1997; the
impact of overgrazing in pastureland.
The results of this program have helped
shape Senegal's management of the environment. There have been efforts to
make agriculture more diverse and sustainable, to stabilize coastal dunes,
to protect remaining forest areas, and to spread awareness about
environmental issues. This program has, therefore, had significant
scientific and policy applications. More information is available at http://edcwww.cr.usgs.gov and http://edcintl.cr.usgs.gov/ip/ip.html.
Remote Sensing in Support of Biodiversity
JOHN MUSINSKY, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL
Conservation International is an NGO with
representation in over 25 nations worldwide focusing on the identification
and protection of biodiversity hotspots and critical tropical ecosystems
[http://www.conservation.org]. A high level of
threat/loss/fragmentation and a high number of species found only in a
particular ecosystem (that is, endemism) are indicators for focusing on a
particular ecosystem. Conservation International works closely with many
groups worldwide, such as the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science,
which focuses on early warning of major events, which could threaten
biodiversity. Conservation International works to assess impacts of past
changes and to determine current trends affecting biodiversity on local,
regional, and global scales. The program focuses on building global
collaboration networks, compiling and assessing extant data, generating
additional data, and improving uses of satellite imagery in preservation
Conservation International not only
monitors biodiversity and deforestation, but also works to pinpoint
indicators of future deforestation. Mr. Musinsky pointed to the benefits
of remote sensing for monitoring of compliance to environmental
agreements, and to assist nations achieve a sustainable course of
development. Conservation International also has a significant focus on
putting remote sensing data into a form where it can be more easily used
and distributed. Mr. Musinsky noted that remote sensing is becoming an
increasingly important tool in environmental analysis and protection.
RESPONDING TO INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL CHALLENGES
Resolving the Ecuador and Peru Border Dispute
JOHN GATES, NATIONAL IMAGERY AND MAPPING AGENCY
John Gates focused on how the objective
and highly accurate data available from satellites [http://www.nima.mil] can
prove a valuable tool in the resolution of international conflicts.
Ecuador and Peru share a long and highly contested border. Conflicts
between the two countries have proved especially difficult to resolve
because of differing interpretations of where the border actually lies.
For example, the conflict of 1941 was concluded with a peace agreement
between the two nations in which Peru followed one interpretation of the
border's location while Ecuador followed another.
In recent years, however, satellite
technology has allowed for more accurate mapping of the
Ecuadorian-Peruvian border region. Both nations have been committed to
resolving their difficulties, and have proved willing to use new tools as
they became available. Aerial over flights initially provided clearer
views of the terrain. The ability to image the disputed area from space,
combined with the advent of GPS technology has further aided in resolving
this conflict. Different satellite data and software analysis programs
have proved to have significant utility. Data from the Canadian RadarSat
satellite have been especially useful because synthetic aperture radar
sensors can pierce through the clouds that often cover the region. GPS
technology has also proved especially important, because it allowed for
highly accurate mapping of the actual location of the border on the ground
and the placement of border markers.
The advanced space-based technology used
in this example did not solve the Ecuador-Peru conflict, but it did
provide an important tool, that, combined with the desire to resolve the
problem, proved enormously successful.
Resolving Disputes in the South China Sea
JOHN BAKER, RAND
John Baker focused on how the use of
space-based remote sensing, particularly high-resolution remote sensing,
can bring greater understanding of events in areas of potential conflict.
His presentation focused on the use of high-resolution imagery, which has
recently become available from commercial sources, in the examination of
the South China Sea and the disputed Spratley Islands. The Spratley
Islands themselves are small and relatively unappealing, many of them
little more than coral reefs only above sea level at low tide. However,
their locale in the South China Sea, an area believed to contain
significant oil and gas reserves, makes these islands potentially valuable
and highly disputed. Mainland China, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam
all claim some or all of the Spratley Islands.
Numerous other nations could be indirectly
affected by any conflict in this region, for in addition to raising the
worry about a wider regional conflict, conflict over control and
occupation of the Spratleys would disrupt shipping lanes used by many
nations. The United States, as well, has an interest in the South China
Sea, in part because of its use of the shipping lanes, but also because
several of its allies would be directly or indirectly affected by conflict
in this region.
Satellite imagery has provided a way to
monitor the events in the South China Sea. The images provided through
this increased transparency have, in some cases, raised concerns about
what nations are doing there. China had earlier claimed that its fishermen
had built shelters on islands to protect themselves. However, satellite,
as well as aircraft imagery has shown that these fishermen's huts are
suspiciously large and complex. The proliferation of the ability to access
satellite imagery from several imagery providers has begun to add
significant transparency to the rather murky claims and counterclaims that
have characterized the conflicts in the South China Sea. Satellite imagery
allows for change detection, and high-resolution imagery allows for
accurate analysis of what is being built at various locations.
Several of the nations involved in this
dispute have begun to use remotely sensed data to promote transparency, in
hopes of managing their differences. There are increasing attempts to use
cooperative monitoring to monitor changes in an effort to reduce tensions.
Mr. Baker noted that commercial data is especially significant in this
type of situation, because it can be shared among nations without concerns
over classification. As well, satellite data provides a more objective
source of information about events.
At this point, it is not clear how
effective the greater transparency that satellite imagery provides will be
in decreasing the chances of conflict in the South China Sea. It is clear
that remote sensing has changed the dynamics of the disputes in a region
of high interest to the United States.
Making the Data Useful: A Panel Discussion
DOUGLAS FULLER, THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, CHAIR
PANELISTS: MICHAEL THOMAS, NASA EARTH SCIENCES ENTERPRISE;
FERNANDO ECHEVARRIA, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE;
LARRY ROEDER, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
[Please note that the summaries of the panel discussions should not be
assumed to include direct quotes.]
FullerRemotely sensed data are
potentially very useful and in recent years we have seen the beginning
evidence of that usefulness. Indonesia, for example, has derived a number
of benefits from remote sensing. In 1997 and 1998, remote sensing was used
to evaluate and locate the forest fires then devastating the nation.
Remote sensing was used to monitor smoke, fires, and the resultant
deforestation. Data from several satellite systems were used, including
the NOAA Polar Orbiters, Landsat, SPOT, and RadarSat.
There are increasing uses for remote
sensing data, of all types and resolutions, worldwide. For example, marine
environmental assessment of coral reefs, sea vegetation, sea surface
temperature, oil spills, waves, and ocean color/pollution level, can be
done with SPOT, RadarSat, European Remote Sensing Satellite, and Terra,
among others. Other systems, such as Ikonos, are increasingly important
for finding areas with important natural resources. For example, in Papua
New Guinea, satellite data not only have helped locate potential mineral
sources, but have also helped monitor compliance with environmental
ThomasIt is important to note that,
over time, new benefits and uses are continuing to emerge, from federal
investments made years ago.
RoederOne of the challenges is to
deliver data quickly to people who need satellite imagery in responding to
natural disasters, especially to people in lesser developed countries
(LDCs). The question is how to connect the world to the increasing amounts
of data being gathered. Nations such as Turkey are extremely interested in
data regarding volcanoes and earthquakes. One possible mechanism for
distributing data in a timely fashion is through the Global Disaster
Information Network (GDIN).
FullerOne of the problems with
remote sensing is that it can be over-promoted as a cure all. Yet there
remain problems both with data distribution and with a lack of trained
imagery analysts to interpret the data.
RoederIt is essential to understand
the needs and priorities of the users and potential users of remotely
sensed data. Data providers need to take these trends and priorities into
account as they gather data. It is important to realize that education of
the users will take a certain amount of time.
ThomasNASA has made numerous efforts
to educate the data user. Nevertheless, NASA is primarily an R&D
institution, and does not focus primarily on distributing the data it
collects. That is, it has a different model than that followed by such
organizations as USGS. In its outreach programs, NASA has found a number
of cultural and institutional barriers in the distribution and use of
FullerIt may be important for NASA
to hire social scientists and other non-technical personnel to deal with
ThomasNASA certainly needs to
understand the international and policy environments, and to focus on
training people to use satellite data more effectively.
RoederNASA needs to work with other
organizations, which it has been doing more aggressively in recent years.
This is especially relevant on defense and disaster management tasks.
AudienceOne thing to realize is that
many people, farmers, for example, are not particularly interested in the
satellite images, but instead in how the information derived from these
images can help them succeed. As well, for users of satellite imagery,
trust in the provider is very important.
AudienceThe Internet is providing a
very useful way for people to access data.
RoederOne problem is that even when
data are available, it is difficult to put them into formats that average
people can use and understand. There is definitely a need to conduct
training in local regions. While the Internet is becoming a very useful
tool, 97% of the world is not yet connected to the Internet. One
important step is to give agencies such as NASA a list of organizations to
distribute data to in the case of disaster.
Applying NASA's Earth Observing System to International Environmental
GHASSEM ASRAR, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR, NASA
Dr. Asrar focused on NASA's extensive
system of Earth observation satellites, and the ways in which the data
from these satellites are being used [www.earth.nasa.gov]. NASA's goal is to achieve a
scientific understanding of Earth systems, and their response to natural
and human-induced changes. This understanding will allow for more accurate
prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards, today and in the
future. Thus, the aim is to observe, analyze, and try to form models for
various systems. In this way changes can be noticed and predicted, and
their impacts analyzed. NASA is working to expand and accelerate the
understanding of the significant ecological and social benefits of earth
science and technology in order to serve important national
NASA works with numerous partners, both
domestic and international, in its study of the Earth's complex systems.
The changes in the Earth's ecological systems are not only scientifically
interesting, but have wide-ranging and immediate consequences for Earth's
inhabitants. NASA's expertise was originally in the space-based part of
earth observation, but has evolved over the years. Mr. Asrar explained how
NASA's newer satellite systems image more of the Earth, and provide not
only visual data but other types of data. NASA's goal is to be able to
examine every aspect of the Earth's systems from space.
A global examination of the planet is
essential and relevant, because it allows for assessment of local and
global changes in land cover and environmental conditions, for weather
prediction and analysis, for the tracking of the relationships between
diseases and climate, and also for numerous practical applications. For
example, predictions of El Niņo's effects have allowed farmers to adjust
the crops they planted in order not to have their crops wiped out by the
resultant weather pattern.
International partnerships are an
important part of NASA's Earth observation programs. NASA works with the
World Climate Research Program, the International Geosphere/Biosphere
Program, the World Meteorological Organization, the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change, and with many more partners and global networks.
NASA focuses on providing high quality images and objective scientific
understanding, which can then be used in support of improving public
policies. NASA and its partners perform and support research projects that
use the data obtained from satellites. As a science agency, NASA is able
to devote considerable expertise and resources to issues such as El Niņo
and ozone depletion.
Following his talk, Dr. Asrar responded to
several questions from the audience. Asked about whether NASA's earth
observation enterprise has an international policy aspect, he replied that
while NASA's earth observation does, to some extent, touch on policy
issues; NASA is more focused on data collection, analysis and
distribution. NASA tries to leave the policy implications to other US
agencies more appropriate to deal with such issues. Dr. Asrar also
explained that it is important to realize that NASA and the United States
are only a small part of a growing number of space agencies worldwide
working in Earth observation. NASA's aim is to ensure that the United
States has the best instrumentation possible on orbit.
Landsat 7: Options for a Successor
DONALD LAUER, CHIEF, USGS EROS DATA CENTER
Dr. Lauer discussed the past, present and
future uses of the Landsat system [http://geo.arc.nasa.gov/sge/landsat/lpchron.html]. The
Landsat satellite carries a moderate-resolution sensor, with resolutions
from 15 to 30 meters. Landsat is often used for environmental monitoring
purposes. Landsat 7, the latest in the series, was launched on April 15,
1999, into polar orbit. Landsat has a number of international ground
stations, part of the goal of maximizing data availability worldwide. The
satellite is capable of collecting approximately 250 scenes (185 km by 185
km) a day and the EROS Data Center [http://landsat7.usgs.gov] can process about 100 per day
for distribution. Corrected, georeferenced Landsat data cost $600 per
scene (less in large numbers). Of the data that have been purchased,
government purchases equal about 27%, industry, 23%, academia,
18%, and international buyers, 32%.
The next step in the Landsat program is
not yet clear. Landsats 1 through 3 were government- owned and operated,
and were fairly successful. Attempts to commercialize the Landsat program
with Landsats 4 & 5, were not very successful; they were plagued by poorly
defined goals, industrial barriers, an overly competitive relationship
with industry, slow technological advancement, and insufficient research
and educational applications. USGS, which operates Landsat 7, and
distributes the data, has worked hard to cooperate with industry, while at
the same time, maximizing educational outreach and technological
The question facing USGS and other
interested parities is what the nature of the next generation system will
be. It could be wholly private, a private sector/government joint project,
a wholly government project, or a project with international involvement.
There is also the possibility of ending the Landsat program after Landsat
7 fails. Dr. Lauer stated the hope that no matter which option is chosen,
data continuity with Landsat-quality data will be maintained. He also
noted that international cooperation is becoming more and more important.
When close coordination is maintained, nationally and internationally,
partners can achieve the best data collection and analysis for the least
amount of investment.
The Future of Moderate-Resolution Earth Monitoring From Space
LAWRENCE PETTINGER, NATIONAL MAPPING DIVISION, USGS, CHAIR
PANELISTS: DONALD LAUER, CHIEF, USGS EROS DATA CENTER;
DARREL WILLIAMS, GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, NASA;
TOM KOGER, RESOURCE 21;
ROGER MITCHELL, VICE PRESIDENT, EARTHSAT
PettingerWhen people talk about
moderate resolution remote sensing they are usually referring to
resolutions in a range that encompasses the Landsat system (10-50 m). In
the Landsat program, one satellite is on orbit at a time, and funding
reaches only about 5 years ahead. There is a high degree of uncertainty in
funding and in policy stance toward Landsat, which has been the subject of
experimentation with privatization. It is important to note Dr. Janetos's
earlier comment about moderate resolution imagery being a public good. As
well, Mr. Hall in his presentation stressed the utility of moderate
resolution data for gaining regional perspective.
LauerMedium resolution imagery does
not have a "champion" within the Administration or Congress to guarantee
its funding and continuity. Today, the relationship between USGS and NASA
is quite successful. It is essential to balance public and private needs
WilliamsThe continuity of Landsat
type data is required by law (the Land remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992)
and required by the need to support scientific investigations of Earth's
environmental systems [http://ldcm.usgs.gov]. Landsat scale data are probably
not commercially viable, but this doesn't mean that no money from Landsat
went into the private sector. Building and launching Landsat 7 cost $630
million, and of this only 4% stayed within NASA. The rest went to
private contractors to build and launch the satellite, and construct the
ground segment. Keeping this type of satellite under government operation
may be necessary if data prices are to stay low. NASA uses the data to
support scientific studies and develop methods to improve the applications
of remotely sensed data.
KogerResource 21 has alliances with
Boeing, Farmland, BAE, and ITT. It wants to market the data derived from
satellite imagery, mainly to commercial agricultural interests. Resource
21 is an information and imagery business that uses remote sensing to
serve a variety of applications needs, including agriculture, renewable
resources, and national security. Several important trends that commercial
and governmental actors need to keep in mind are: that the world
population continues to grow; that the increasing population has a
significant environmental impact; that the world has become, in many ways,
more politically risky; and that science and defense budgets are often
decreasing. Resource 21 intends to take these trends into account in its
business. The satellite systems will be similar to Landsat, and include
advanced technologies for collection and processing of data. Resource 21
will help provide for the continuity of Landsat-scale data. The business
plan for Resource 21 does not depend on revenue from the government, but
it is likely that the government will buy a significant amount of this
data. Resource 21 is hoping to use many of Landsat 7's advances to operate
cheaply and efficiently.
MitchellRemote sensing and land
cover mapping have their own peculiar economics. NOAA's satellites have a
resolution of about 1 kilometer. This resolution is good for countrywide
and global change examination. Landsat imagery is about 30 m resolution.
This kind of resolution is useful on a more national level. Older Landsat
imagery cost $4,000 a scene to purchase, but the information derived from
the scene cost about $20,000 a scene to generate (including the image
cost). Information from Landsat 7 data costs $2,500 a scene after analysis
($600 plus value-added costs). Now with cheaper data, satellite imagery
can be used more broadly. For example, satellite data can now be used, not
just to map, but also to conduct detailed change analysis.
AudienceHave there been increased
business opportunities since the 1970s?
WilliamsWe are all working to
increase scene collection and lower costs. We expect to see more interest
in data as time goes on. I hope that Resource 21's plans prove viable,
because that will help ensure data continuity.
KogerWe definitely value
cooperation, with NASA and other organizations. The current, close to
free, data policy is very important. The cheapness of Landsat type data
can help Resource 21 provide data to its customers for a more reasonable
price. There is a very real need to train imagery analysts and inexpensive
imagery will assist that effort.
AudienceYou talk about Resource 21
removing the need for Landsat 8, but Landsats resolution is 30 meters, and
Resource 21's planned resolution is 8 meters- so how can they be
KogerResource 21 will work to meet
the requirements of Landsat continuity, even if it means acquiring broader
MitchellI think most people in this
field definitely hope that NASA and the government will purchase data from
private ventures. There is no incompatibility in the government buying
data from commercial providers.
WilliamWhile commercial actors
certainly have a significant and increasing role to play, ensuring
continuous and low-cost data may very well require continued government
The Challenges and Opportunities of High-Resolution Commercial
Satellites in International Affairs
RAY A. WILLIAMSON, RESEARCH PROFESSOR, ELLIOTT SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL
Professor Williamson provided an overview
of some of the key themes and complexities in Earth observation. Today's
technologies are more and more integrated. GIS, GPS and video technologies
are often used together. Analytic and display software is becoming
increasingly inexpensive and more capable. GPS technology is being
integrated into large numbers of products. Many of today's rapidly
advancing technologies are even more powerful when used in conjunction
with each other. The complementary nature of information technology,
incorporating a variety of geospatial information is a growing trend. This
has contributed to significant growth in the value-added industry. People
are willing to pay more to receive, not just the raw data, but also the
interpretation and analysis of that data. There is also a convergence
between the requirements of the national security community and the
commercial marketplace that is helping to spur the value-added
Access to a wide variety of image sources
is contributing to a growing world transparency. Transparency's potential
influence on international affairs is not a new phenomenon. After all,
access to imagery from aerial over flights played a key role in the Cuban
missile crisis. Today's satellite Earth observation extends the ability to
observe possible treaty violations and other activities to
non-governmental organizations as well as to a wide variety of
governments. That increase in access to information can make decisions
easier to make, but it can also speed up the need to respond beyond the
capacity of the political process. Today's proliferation of capabilities
means that Earth imagery and data are also available to both friends and
foes of the United States.
Because other nations have developed
technological capabilities very close to those held by the United States,
no one nation or bloc will be able to control the flow of data and the
information that can be derived from them. It is therefore very likely
that the never-tested US policy of shutter control will have limited
efficacy. We can hope that the growing regime of "mutual assured
observation" will allow nations to improve insight into each other's
actions, and result in a lowering of international tensions. Today,
non-governmental organizations are becoming more significant players in
transparency and earth observation. Particularly notable are organizations
such as the Institute for Science and International Security, which has
examined the North Korean nuclear facilities using satellite imagery, and
the Federation of American Scientists, which is buying and publishing one
meter imagery of various sensitive regions, including the top secret US
facility, so-called Area 51. The new accessibility of satellite data has
allowed state, as well as national, governments to purchase such data.
This has already led to confrontations, such as in India, where a state's
purchase of imagery (of itself) was contested by the national government.
The spreading access to high resolution imagery is certain to alter
patterns of interaction, both among nations, and between nations and
private corporations. It is becoming obvious that there are broad public
good uses for satellite data, both high and moderate resolution. Not all
of these uses are obvious today, but there is a promising start visible
today, and an excellent potential for the future.
Earth Observations/International Policy
JOHN BAKER, RAND, CHAIR
PANELISTS: RAY BYRNES, USGS LIAISON FOR SATELLITE PROGRAMS, USGS;
ANN FLORINI, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE;
TIM STRYKER, NOAA NESDIS;
WOODY TURNER, NASA EARTH SCIENCE ENTERPRISE
FloriniThe accessibility of
satellite imagery is part of a larger trend throughout the world [http://www.ceip.org/files/Publications/secretsforsale.asp?p=10&from=pubdate].
There is today a tension between secrecy and data openness. Remotely
sensed data will make certain types of secrets harder to keep.
Politically, the current era is marked by the growth of freedom of
information laws in more nations. Environmental regulations and arms
control agreements depend implicitly on transparency. There are increasing
demands for economic and financial transparency.
Trends in favor of transparency include:
that secrecy tends to be the refuge of scandals and incompetents; and that
transparency can have a stabilizing impact on many types of relationships.
Trends in favor of secrecy include: that familiarity can breed contempt-
i.e., in the case of true animosity, transparency will just make attack
easier; the possibility of the misuse or misinterpretation of information;
the fact that there are legitimate reasons to keep secrets; and that
transparency is expensive, and may be too expensive to have a significant
impact on global affairs. The question we are faced with, then, is which
is winning- transparency or secrecy? Which should? At this point it is
hard to say which trend is winning. As far as which should win,
transparency has more credible arguments on its side. The burden of proof
should be on those who wish to keep secrets.
ByrnesThe Landsat system has a long
history of international involvement. Landsat has had international ground
receiving stations for 30 years. Initially, data access was very liberal.
Under Landsat's commercial operation, some international ground stations
began to charge a fair amount of money in order to support their
operation. It has proved quite challenging to deal with access fees.
Ground stations have limitations dictated by function and policy. Ground
stations have a limited capacity to download, process and store data. It
is essential to increase training on a global basis. We are currently not
doing a very good job getting the data into the hands of the
StrykerData policies need to be
consolidated. Currently there are several policies, civil, commercial, and
military. For example, NOAA is responsible for licensing civilian
commercial satellites according to provisions in the 1992 Land Remote
Sensing Policy Act [http://www.licensing.noaa.gov]. As well, there are
numerous international policies, especially as, in many other nations the
line between public and private is quite different than in the United
TurnerOne of the key questions is
how to get environmental data to NGOs and others who could best use the
data. NASA's early theory was basically, if you build it, they will use
it, but there is a need to put an effort into use/ distribution, as well
as into collection.
AudienceOne example of the
complications in data policy is that, in nations like Egypt and India,
governmental permission is required before buying Ikonos and other high
FloriniMany nations do not even have
well defined data policies at this point. In some more centralized states,
such as India, it is necessary to go through a government agency to make
use of satellite data. It may be possible to restrict access to data, but
it will not be possible to prevent access to data. There is a real need
for international discussion to address international data policy. The
United States has worked to dominate data policy and push for
transparency, which may, in the end cause a backlash. It is important to
realize that nature of information technology does not fit with national
borders. Remote sensing is just one example of this new trans-national
AudienceWould it be possible for one
source, for example, one nation, to buy up all the imagery of its own, or
PanelThis would be extremely
expensive, but there is no law against it. However, data sold to one
customer can also be sold to another. Selling the same scene to more than
one customer is an important part of commercial strategy.
commercialization has led to more secrecy. How do we know that a similar
situation would not arise in satellite remote sensing?
PanelIt is possible that companies
will initially be able to exploit the resources. However, there are
already some laws governing key aspects of remote sensing, such as sensed
state laws. Hopefully, even if commercialization initially allows the
exploitation of resources, policy will catch up eventually.
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