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January-February 2020

Volume: 108 Number: 1

Remote sensing satellites make it possible to study the Earth in new ways, such as by documenting changes to the planet over time, including changes in climate. These space-based pictures have led to scientific discoveries, but the U.S. Geological Survey, which runs the Landsat program, also produces images for educational and reference purposes. Here, scientists enhanced a portion of a Landsat 8 image to show the patterns of tropical vegetation, sediment, and nutrients at an estuary in northwestern Australia. This kind of top-down dissemination of knowledge can be traced to remote sensing’s military origins in technologies designed to provide decision-makers with information on enemy whereabouts. In “How Climate Science Could Lead to Action,” (pages 34–41), Samantha Jo Fried describes this history and explains how rethinking the relationship to remote-sensing satellites could prompt more public engagement in addressing climate change. (Cover image produced by Geoscience Australia, a Landsat Science Team Member; courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey.)

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