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Proposals to privatise the Landsat satellite system, which has photographed the Earth for 30 years, are being greeted with concern by many global-change researchers.

They fear that a lack of a commercial market for Landsat pictures could push up prices, as occurred when the service was taken out of public hands in the 1980s.

The current satellite — the seventh in the series — is operated by NASA and the US Geological Survey. A draft invitation for bids from private companies to run the system is expected from NASA in the next few weeks, with a formal version due by the end of the year.

Link to Nature news story

Reference: Nature 419, 328 (2002)

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