Up There to See What’s Going on Down Here
The USGS studies the great breadth of sciences related to our planet including atmospheric conditions, oceanography, the climate, geology (the history and present conditions on the ground), magnetic fields, environmental science and issues relating to human impact, and of course, cartography. And that is just a sample of what they do. So from earthquakes to glaciers to plate tectonics, it’s their job to know what happened when and how it happened. With an understanding of that knowledge they might be able to accurately predict what's in store for the most stunning planet in the Universe. Landsat 7 data enables scientists to study the way natural processes affect the Earth over time (coastal erosion is one small example). But, one of their most important jobs is to monitor the activity of the one species on Earth most prone to intentionally ruining a good thing, we humans. We can only hope that Landsat satellites will never record the devastating effects of a nuclear war.
Since the U.S. Geological Survey has always been a leading authority on so many of the sciences related to the Earth and its climates, they were the perfect partner to bring on board to do what they do best, only from space now. Not literally of course, Landsat has always done its Earth-observing using unmanned satellites since the inception of the program in 1972. The USGS and NASA make heads and tails out of all that imagery and digital information to determine what is Landsat data that can that can help researchers study agriculture, forestry, climate change, water quality, flooding impacts, and just about anything and everything related to the natural resources of the Earth. Researchers in a vast number of fields, hailing from a multitude of organizations study the data compiled from Landsat satellites for all sorts of practical applications. NASA and the USGS don’t hoard the information in that way.