NASA's Land, Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EO (LANCE) makes NASA Earth observation (EO) data from the following instruments available within three hours of a satellite observation:

  • Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS)
  • Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2)
  • Lightning Imaging Sensor on the International Space Station (LIS ISS)
  • Advanced Topographic Altimeter System (ATLAS) on the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2)*
  • Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR)
  • Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS)
  • Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)
  • Measurement of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT)
  • Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI)
  • Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite (OMPS)
  • Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS)

*Data from ICESat-2 are expedited and made available within 3 days of satellite observation rather than the average 45 days for the standard data.

This is to meet the timely needs of applications such as facilitating numerical weather and climate prediction; forecasting and monitoring natural hazards, assessing ecological/invasive species, agriculture, and air quality; providing help with disaster relief; and ensuring homeland security.

Read more about LANCE and the system architecture.

User Community

LANCE users span a variety of communities interested in a range of applications. Users come from both the civilian and military sectors, from government and non-government agencies, and from universities and other research intuitions. This section highlights a selection of LANCE users.


Global Fire Information Management System (GFIMS)—GFIMS is an operational version of the Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) running at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO), where it complements the FAO’s existing suite of projects charged with delivering near real-time information to ongoing monitoring and emergency projects to other UN organizations as well as providing information to the general public.

Global Observation of Forest and Land Cover Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD)—The GOFC/GOLD-Fire Mapping and Monitoring Theme is a project of the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) program and is aimed at refining and articulating the international observation requirements and making the best possible use of fire products from existing and future satellite observing systems for fire management, policy decision-making, and global change research.

The UN Global Fire Monitoring Center also provides Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)-based fire data for the international fire community.

Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS)—AFIS is a comprehensive wildfire information system that provides users with information and intelligence around the prediction, detection, monitoring, and assessment of wildfires globally. Earth observing satellite wildfire detections are complemented with both crowdsource detections from the AFIS Watchtower app as well as through automated in situ camera detection systems capable of detecting thin smoke plumes up to 20 miles away. Fire Danger models such as the Canadian Fire Weather Index (FWI) and Australian McArthur Fire Danger models have been fully integrated in to the system and can be produced for any area globally. A new MODIS burned area product has been produced by merging the standard MCD45 MODIS with the MCD64 Burned Area product, while a new Landsat 8 and Sentinel 2 algorithm has also been developed to provide higher resolution mapping of new fire events. AFIS provides a hybrid wildfire dashboard providing situational awareness for any region of interest and integrates NASA Worldview into the dashboard to improve the visualization component within the dashboard and provides users with access to not only the Direct Readout station data, but also all NASA Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS) datasets.


NRT Global MODIS Flood Mapping—NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Office of Applied Science (OAS) is working to operationalize near real-time global flood mapping using NRT MODIS data provided through LANCE. This work builds on the long-time expertise and efforts of the Dartmouth Flood Observatory (DFO) to map floodwater extent in detail for active floods. DFO provides additional detail, additional products, and archives of historical flood maps. The maps generated are available to governments and relief organizations. DFO also compiles yearly catalogs, maps, and images of river floods from 1985 to the present, primarily for researchers.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS) uses NRT MODIS imagery from LANCE to observe large areas across the world. These images help FAS improve the accuracy and timeliness of crop yield predictions, which are needed to make decisions affecting U.S. agriculture, trade policy, and food aid. MODIS collects data twice daily: from the Terra satellite in the morning and the Aqua satellite in the afternoon. This helps analysts observe how events such as fires, volcanic eruptions, floods, storms, or extreme temperatures affect crops.

Global Agricultural Monitoring (GLAM), a collaborative project between the University of Maryland, USDA FAS, and NASA, uses NRT MODIS data to produce crop masks and timely NDVI products that allow FAS analysts to distinguish between different crops like wheat and rice and predict yield by comparing current data with previous years.

Air Quality

The United States Air Force Weather Agency and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) rely on MODIS NRT images to monitor and predict dust storms in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Dust storms can interfere with troop and equipment movement and with aircraft safety. The military also uses NRT imagery for other areas in the world where weather conditions, snow cover, smoke, fires, volcanic eruptions, and other things could impact military operations.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. NRL monitor for smoke that might be a health threat.

Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET)—AERONET is a worldwide network of ground based sensors that monitor the air for aerosols to understand the impact of aerosols on climate change. LANCE provides NRT MODIS imagery of the sensor sites. By comparing satellite and ground-based observations, scientists can learn how aerosols reflect and absorb light and can validate satellite-based aerosol observations. This will improve the tools scientists use to monitor aerosols over the entire Earth.

Sea Ice

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) uses MODIS NRT imagery to help navigate sea ice and to populate Polar View, a website that delivers information about sea ice extent and icebergs directly to ships operating in the Southern Ocean. Users of Polar View in the Antarctic include national program operators, tourist vessels, and other ships working in this region. The aim of Polar View is to make sea ice information widely accessible to all ships and operators in the Southern Ocean.

The Polar Geospatial Center (PGC) uses NRT MODIS imagery to flag significant polar events, this information is used to task higher resolution imagery. PGC also harvests MODIS NRT imagery to add to its collection of satellite imagery supporting researchers and logistics groups in the polar science community. Timely data are used to support the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP). The images are used to plot new courses for the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, fuel, and cargo ships bringing supplies to McMurdo Station, the American research station on Antarctica. Daily images are crucial to chart a safe course around the drifting icebergs and through the sea ice that covers McMurdo Sound. The images are also being used by scientists who are tracking the movement of icebergs.


As LANCE can create an image of an event such as a major fire the same day it happens, the images are ideal for news and outreach. LANCE provides regular images of storms, fires, and other events as they happen to NASA's Public Affairs Office and the media. MODIS NRT images have been featured in major newspaper and television networks across the world. NASA’s Earth Observatory website posts regular MODIS images of significant events around the world in the Natural Hazards section and in their Image of the Day feature. MODIS NRT images have also appeared on NASA's web portal, Goddard home page, and on Goddard TV.

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) incorporates MODIS NRT images into a regularly updated exhibit about Earth called Science Bulletins. Displayed on interactive kiosks and on high-definition video, the Science Bulletins provide a way for museums to exhibit stories and information about current science, and are intended to show that science is dynamic with new discoveries being made constantly. There are four Science Bulletins: Astro Bulletin, which is about astrophysics and astronomy; Bio Bulletin, about biodiversity and conservation; Earth Bulletin, about Earth and climate; and Human Bulletin, about human interactions with the environment. In addition to being displayed at the American Museum of Natural History, the Bulletins are also made available for display to other science museums, universities, and NASA visitor centers around the U.S. and Canada. Currently, 21 institutions are participating. The Bulletin sites offer additional information not available in the exhibits as well as an archive of past Bulletins.

Back to top

User Working Group

LANCE is reviewed and supported by a User Working Group (UWG) whose members reflect the various user communities served by LANCE. The group is chaired by Miguel Román, Senior Director and Chief Scientist of Climate and Environment at Leidos. Román has taken over from Professor Chris Justice (Chair of the Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland) who was chair for 10 years. The UWG meets at least once per year to review the status of LANCE operations and development activities and to provide guidance concerning future upgrades suggested by the user communities and the LANCE elements. Details of the responsibilities of the UWG are given in the UWG Charter.

More information about the User Working Group can be found on the LANCE wiki.

Back to top

User Working Group (UWG) Charter

1.0 Preface

The Land, Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EO (LANCE) User Working Group (UWG) shall be responsible for providing guidance and recommendations concerning a broad range of topics related to the LANCE system, capabilities, and services. In these regards, the UWG shall be responsible for representing the broad needs of the LANCE applications user communities. In addition, the UWG members shall have close ties with the various Science Teams for the instruments included in LANCE. Any recommendation by the UWG shall not constitute an implementation instruction, but shall indicate that NASA's Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) Project should engage NASA Headquarters concerning the feasibility and cost of implementation. Final authority shall rest with the latter.

2.0 LANCE Mission and Services

LANCE is responsible for generating and distributing near real-time data and expedited products with a high degree of reliability (from primary and secondary systems). LANCE provides a number of services, including user registration, web services, user services, data metrics, browse products, and tools for generating subsetted products and products using a variety of data formats.

3.0 LANCE User Working Group

3.1 Responsibilities

Topics for consideration by the LANCE UWG shall include, but are not limited to:

  • Assessing the efforts of the LANCE elements in the implementation of prior recommendations made by the UWG
  • Providing an assessment of the quality of the services provided by the LANCE elements and a determination of the extent to which the products reflect the needs of the applications communities
  • Suggesting modifications to existing products and services that will improve the degree to which LANCE meets the end user requirements
  • Reviewing the suggested enhancements that have been made for the LANCE elements by UWG members, ESDIS staff, the LANCE element’s staff, or the end users and developing recommendations for NASA Headquarters concerning which of these should potentially be implemented in the next 12 month interval. The UWG shall also recommend the priorities for implementation
  • Identifying the possible evolution of LANCE on a 1–2 year timeframe

3.2 Membership

To the extent possible, the UWG in its entirety shall include representatives from all sectors of the user communities that are serviced by LANCE products and services and shall be cognizant of the science aspects of the data products. The UWG shall be limited to 15 members and shall include representatives from U.S. civilian and military agencies, universities, the private sector, and foreign organizations. The term for the members shall be two years; failure to attend two consecutive UWG meetings will automatically terminate membership. The terms shall be renewable. The responsibility for identifying the UWG Chair and the UWG members shall rest with ESDIS and NASA Headquarters. In addition to the 15 members representing the user communities, there shall be six ex-officio members: a representative from NASA Headquarters (Vice Chair), a representative from ESDIS, and the LANCE element leads.

3.3 Meeting Schedules and Procedures

A minimum of one face-to-face meeting and one teleconference per year shall be scheduled by the Chair and the Vice Chair. If necessary, additional teleconferences may be required to discuss, for example, system upgrades that are time-critical in nature as determined by the user community. For these ad hoc meetings a quorum shall be the UWG member(s) representing the instrument involved and the potential user community, the Chair and Vice Chair, the ESDIS representative, and the element lead(s) involved with the potential system upgrade. ESDIS shall be responsible for generating minutes for all UWG meetings. In addition, ESDIS shall generate quarterly reports for the UWG identifying system status, system updates, and ongoing development activity in the context of the UWG recommendations. These items shall be included on the LANCE website.

The format for the face-to-face meetings shall be determined by the Chair and Vice Chair. In general, the meeting shall include the status of each element, a report on ESDIS activity, and a discussion/recommendation session organized around the suggested system upgrades. ESDIS shall be responsible for distributing the meeting agenda.

Back to top

User Working Group (UWG) Members

Element of Interest
Miguel Román (Chair) Leidos All Elements
Arlindo da Silva NASA Goddard Space Flight Center MODIS, VIIRS, AIRS
Brad Quayle US Forest Service (USFS) MODIS, VIIRS
Fred Stolle World Resources Institute (WRI) MODIS, VIIRS
Josh Cossuth Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Monterey/Washington, D.C. MODIS, VIIRS, AMSR-E
Lori Schultz NASA Marshall Space Flight Center MODIS, VIIRS
Maggi Glasscoe University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) MODIS, VIIRS, SAR
Mark Trice Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) MODIS, VIIRS
Mike Budde US Geological Survey (USGS) MODIS, VIIRS
Mike Fromm Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Washington, D.C. MODIS, VIIRS
Patrick Duran NASA Marshall Space Flight Center - Short Term Prediction Research and Transition Center (SPoRT) MODIS, VIIRS, AIRS, AMSR-E
Robert Brakenridge Colorado/Dartmouth Flood Observatory MODIS
Steve Miller Colorado State University, Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) MODIS, VIIRS

Back to top

User Working Group (UWG) Meetings

Summary information from previous LANCE UWG Meetings and some summary articles written in NASA's The Earth Observer are available on the LANCE wiki.

Back to top

Last Updated