Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center is a remotely sensed data management, systems development and research field center for the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Climate and Land Use Change Mission Area, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior.


What is EROS Center and why was it developed?

EROS was developed with the premise that in order to understand our planet on local, regional, national and global scales, we need information about Earth's land surfaces and how those surfaces change over time. Land remote sensing is the key to gathering this information. Roughly 1.5 terabytes of this information arrive at EROS every day making EROS the largest civilian archive of remotely sensed land data in the world; an archive that represents a perfectly preserved, 70-year record of Earth's land surfaces.


Where does EROS get its data?

Although EROS does acquire data and images from a variety of remote sensing instruments, satellites that capture detailed images of Earth's continents, islands and coastlines are and have been EROS' primary source of remotely sensed data since the center opened in 1973.


Who has access to EROS data?

Every day, EROS supplies nearly a terabyte worth of current and historical land data to scientists, natural resource managers, urban planners, government decision makers and other users around the world.


How do experts within EROS use the data they collect?

EROS is recognized for its expertise in developing new ways to analyze, visualize and utilize data for studying diverse aspects of Earth's terrestrial environment. EROS staff have developed methods to study the carbon cycle and simulate the effect of climate change, explore the causes and effects of wildfires, aid in disaster response activities, monitor drought conditions, provide early warning signs for famines, investigate ecological changes and their effect and improve how scientists predict volcanic eruptions. They also create data sets that detail things like typography and the types of vegetation found in a place through a single growing season or across multiple seasons.


Why is EROS in Sioux Falls, South Dakota?

When the idea for the EROS project was first discussed in the 1960's, a study determined the best location for handling and distributing satellite data. The report recommended the data center be centrally located for receiving data as Landsat satellites passed over any part of the United States. A rural location was also recommended to avoid radio and TV interference. This limited the location to an elliptical area the stretched from Topeka, Kansas to just north of Sioux Falls.


South Dakota Senator Karl Mundt worked with business leaders in Sioux Falls to raise money to buy land north of Sioux Falls. The group then donated the land to the government, which helped persuade the USGS to choose the South Dakota location.


For more information about the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, please visit their website.