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Adopt a Pixel

 Images taken from a single point facing West, Up, South, North, East, and Down (New Mexico 2013)

Adopt a Pixel is a citizen science program that engages the public in collecting data, in this case landscape photographs, for scientific research. The science community has easy access to Landsat satellite data but has limited resources for acquiring ground reference photographs to verify land cover type. The goal of Adopt a Pixel is to acquire ground-based photographs to improve satellite data interpretation for operational and research science. Photographs from volunteers provide scientists with ground-based landscape data that would be too expensive or time consuming to acquire by other means.

The digital photographs in this collection are provided by volunteers in the field. These images are geospatially referenced manually by the user, or automatically by the acquisition device.

A simple, straightforward protocol for collection of scientifically useful ground reference data was developed and field tested in spring and summer 2013. The Landsat Science Team provided input on the protocol to ensure its scientific utility. The Adopt a Pixel collection continues to grow with the help from citizen scientists from across the globe. Volunteers can share their land cover photographs and participate in the program by visiting the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center Adopt a Pixel interface ( Images show the terrain from a single point facing North, South, East, West, Up, and Down to give a clear view of landscape features in all directions. Field observations include land cover classification and any notable comments about conditions, patterns, or changes.

The identification of land cover type follows Anderson classifications.

Urban or built up land
Agricultural land
Forest land
Barren land
Perennial snow or ice

Adopt a Pixel products are distributed in JPEG format. Images facing North, South, East, West, Up, and Down are packaged together in a zip file.

Additional Information:

Data Use and Citation Policies

For information on how to cite USGS data plus guidance on usage restrictions,
please see our Data Citations and Use page at

Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and
does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Contact Information for User Assistance

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
47914 252nd Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57198-0001

Phone Number: 605-594-6151
Toll Free: 800-252-4547
Fax: 605-594-6589


Business Hours: Monday thru Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Central Time