Some of the most comprehensive geographic work in the world is done at the EROS Data Center near Sioux Falls.
That center has on file 40 years worth of satellite imaging, detailing the Earth's surface and how that surface is changing. And now, all that work is about to take another big step forward.
The images are beautiful and complex. And over time, they have marked some of the detailed records ever made about the planet Earth itself.
"The Landsat program has a 40 year record of the surface of the Earth; the most comprehensive record of the land surface of the Earth ever assembled." Tom Holm with EROS tells us, what these satellite images show is a changing world and how man is playing a role in that: sometimes with good results, sometimes with bad results. These images can also track trends like drought, and that is relatable...especially right now.
"I think this is a real gem we have in this area." State Senator David Omdahl of Sioux Falls was one of 30 dignitaries who toured EROS today and learned about the next big step for this data center...the upcoming February launch of the Landsat 8 satellite...which will take crisper, sharper images of the earth....and continue the tradition of trying to literally determine what is going on in the world. "When you even look at a natural disaster or trying to predict what's happening with the crops....I think it's very, very important."
Drought....land erosion......ocean levels....all of it is tracked and monitored here....at this center just east of Sioux Falls. "What we do here in terms of understanding a changing Earth really does matter."
The Landsat-8 satellite will be launched 54 days from now at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.