Landsat Satellite Science Advisors Gather in Boise June 15-17

Friday, June 4 2010

BOISE, Idaho – An international team of scientists and engineers advising federal officials on the next generation of earth resource satellites will gather in Boise in mid-June.
Two Idaho-based members of the team, University of Idaho water resources engineer Rick Allen and Idaho Department of Water Resources retired administrator Anthony Morse, will play host to 20 colleagues on the international team.
U.S. Geological Survey and NASA officials will confer with the team about the design and progress of the next earth resource satellite, Landsat 8, scheduled for launch late next year, 39 years after the first Landsat.
The Idaho Water Resources Department, Morse and Allen were honored last year by Harvard University's Ash Center for Public Policy with an innovations in government award for their use of Landsat data to monitor agricultural water use in Idaho. Other states have since followed their lead.
The science team's mission is to find similar uses for the satellite data, advise U.S. Geological Survey and NASA officials about future satellite needs and develop new ways to use the four decades of archived information to monitor land use and ecological changes.
"Landsat 8 is a totally new design," said Allen, who is based at the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station's Kimberly Research and Extension Center. Landsat 8 will use sensors similar in concept to those used in digital cameras to record and transmit images instead of complex and expensive mirrored devices.
Like past Landsats, the new model will continue to track land use through images with a resolution of 30-meter squares.
The science team helped win a change in the new satellite's design, the addition of a temperature monitor or thermal band, which has been a feature on Landsats since 1982. The thermal band is essential to Allen's research that Idaho Water Resources officials use to track water use.
The national award helped show the advantage of the additional equipment. Allen said, "It's a much easier sell on Capitol Hill and easier to get senators and congressmen excited about something when there's an example of how the applications are working their ways into public and business uses."