The US Department of the Interior is to take over an upgraded land-mapping operation to replace the 35-year-old Landsat programme.

A new National Land Imaging programme run by the department will update the existing Landsat constellation for better image resolution and more frequent revisits, according to A plan for a US national land imaging programme report released by the president's office of science and technology policy.

The current two-satellite constellation has provided 35 years of moderate level imagery, 30m (98ft) resolution and above, that can revisit an area every eight days.

But the original two Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 spacecraft are approaching the end of their lives and historically have been managed by different departments.

The report recommends a need for high-quality multi-spectral data and a revisit rate of two to four days in the next decade. The report does not provide updating costs.

"Because the centrepiece of the programme is the continuation of the Landsat series of satellites it is anticipated that the cost of those satellites will continue to be approximately the same, though programme managers may find ways to reduce costs," says office of science and technology policy senior policy adviser Gene Whitney.

The report says that the USA is already planning an "integrated Earth observation system", which will be a part of the Global Earth Observation Satellite System - an international effort to create a comprehensive observation infrastructure.

Source: Flight International