Crisis in Earth Observation

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Science  30 Mar 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5820, pp. 1767
DOI: 10.1126/science.1142466

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Satellite sensors have been imaging Earth's land surface, oceans, and ice fields since the early 1970s. The data sets derived from these observations have chronicled transformations on the planet's surface, ranging from urban sprawl to tropical deforestation, covering even the most remote regions of the globe. Scientists in the United States, supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other agencies, have demonstrated the utility and societal benefits of the data in a wide range of applications, including community planning, crop monitoring, coral reef mapping, water-quality assessment, disaster management, and homeland security. Sadly, this is about to change.

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