Remote Sensing Technologies

understanding the technologies needed to sense our world

USGS Optical Science Lab

The USGS Optical Science Laboratory (OSL) is closing April 1, 2017. The Lab will accept camera calibration requests through 3:00 pm, December 30, 2016.  Any request after that shall not be considered.  Please see closure announcement here.

Providing cartographic information for the United States

Camera at the Optical Science Laboratory

Camera at Optical Science Laboratory

Over the years, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Report of Calibration has become the de facto requirement of other U.S. Federal agencies, as well as State and local governments. Staff of the OSL meticulously perform the calibration process and, barring internal lens changes due to factory repair work or rough usage, provide an unbiased evaluation in a standardized, repeatable test environment. This ensures consistent results from calibration to calibration. The USGS Report of Calibration is valid for three years from the date of issue. To maintain calibration currency, the camera must have been calibrated at the Optical Science Laboratory (OSL) within the past three years.

The OSL also provides technical assistance to Government agencies, the private sector, and commercial manufacturers.

Visiting the Optical Science Laboratory

The Optical Science Laboratory is located in the J.W. Powell Federal Building on the campus of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Center in Reston, Virgina. Reston is located in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. For a site map and directions to the USGS National Center from Washington Dulles International Airport and from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, please visit

Although we cannot endorse local businesses, we offer the following links as a starting point to help you locate lodging when you are staying in northern Virginia:

Please note: Visits to the Optical Science Laboratory should be arranged in advance by contacting the OSL.

Contact Us

      USGS Optical Science Laboratory


      SGT Contractor – Scott Stephens
      SGT Contractor – Omar Patterson


      U.S. Geological Survey
      518 National Center, MS 518
      Reston, VA 20192-0001
      Telephone: 703-648-4692
      Fax: 703-648-4155

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Page Last Modified: January 8, 2013