May 2013


May 17, 2013Thermal Infrared Sensor

The Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) measures land surface temperature in two thermal bands with a new technology that applies quantum physics to detect heat. TIRS was added to Landsat 8 when it became clear that state water resource managers rely [...]

May 17, 2013Operational Land Imager

The Operational Land Imager (OLI), built by the Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, measures in the visible, near infrared, and short wave infrared portions of the spectrum. Its images have 15-meter (49 ft.) panchromatic and 30-meter [...]

Landsat 8
May 17, 2013Landsat 8

The Details Launch Date: February 11, 2013 Status: operational Sensors: OLI, TIRS Altitude: 705 km Inclination: 98.2° Orbit: polar, sun-synchronous Equatorial Crossing Time: nominally 10 AM (± 15 min.) local time (descending Read more [...]

Jan 23, 2013Landsat Applications

  Agriculture, Forestry and Range Resources Land Use and Mapping Geology Hydrology Coastal Resources Environmental Monitoring Discriminating vegetative, crop and timber types Classifying land uses Mapping major geologic features Determining [...]

The Worldwide Reference System
Jan 21, 2013The Worldwide Reference System

The Worldwide Reference System (WRS) is a global notation system for Landsat data. It enables a user to inquire about satellite imagery over any portion of the world by specifying a nominal scene center designated by PATH and ROW numbers. The [...]

Jan 21, 2013The Thematic Mapper

The Thematic Mapper (TM) is an advanced, multispectral scanning, Earth resources sensor designed to achieve higher image resolution, sharper spectral separation, improved geometric fidelity and greater radiometric accuracy and resolution than [...]

Jan 21, 2013The Multispectral Scanner System

The Multispectral Scanner System (MSS) sensors were line scanning devices observing the Earth perpendicular to the orbital track. The cross-track scanning was accomplished by an oscillating mirror; six lines were scanned simultaneously in each [...]

Jan 21, 2013The Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus

The Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) instrument is a fixed "whisk-broom", eight-band, multispectral scanning radiometer capable of providing high-resolution imaging information of the Earth's surface. It detects spectrally-filtered radiation [...]

Jan 21, 2013The Enhanced Thematic Mapper

Landsat 6 was launched on Oct. 5, 1993 carrying the Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM) instrument. L6 did not achieve orbit.   ETM Bands Band Number µm Resolution 1 0.45-0.52 30 m 2 0.52-0.60 30 m 3 0.63-0.69 30 m 4 0.76-0.90 30 Read more [...]

Landsat 7
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 7

The Details Launch Date: April 15, 1999 Status: operational despite Scan Line Corrector (SLC) failure May 31, 2003 Sensors: ETM+ Altitude: 705 km Inclination: 98.2° Orbit: polar, sun-synchronous Equatorial Crossing Time: nominally Read more [...]

Landsat 6
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 6

The Details Launch Date: October 5, 1993 Status: lost at launch Sensor: ETM + read about the history of Landsat 6 More Technical Details Landsat 1 Landsat 2 Landsat 3 Landsat 4 Landsat 5 Landsat 6 Landsat 7 Landsat Read more [...]

Landsat 5
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 5

The Details Launch Date: March 1, 1984 Status: MSS instrument decommissioned Sensors: TM, MSS Altitude: 705 km Inclination: 98.2° Orbit: polar, sun-synchronous Equatorial Crossing Time: nominally 9:45 AM (± 15 min.) local time Read more [...]

Landsat 4
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 4

The Details Launch Date: July 16 , 1982 Status: decommissioned, June 15, 2001 Sensors: TM, MSS Altitude: 705 km Inclination: 98.2° Orbit: polar, sun-synchronous Equatorial Crossing Time: nominally 9:45 AM (± 15 min.) local Read more [...]

Landsat 3
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 3

The Details Launch Date: March 5, 1978 Status: expired, March 31, 1983 Sensors: RBV, MSS Altitude: nominally 900 km Inclination: 99.2° Orbit: polar, sun-synchronous Equatorial Crossing Time: nominally 9:42 AM mean local time Read more [...]

Landsat 2
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 2

The Details Launch Date: January 22, 1975 Status: expired, February 5, 1982 Sensors: RBV, MSS Altitude: nominally 900 km Inclination: 99.2° Orbit: polar, sun-synchronous Equatorial Crossing Time: nominally 9:42 AM mean local Read more [...]

Landsat 1
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 1

The Details Launch Date: July 23, 1972 Status: expired, January 6, 1978 Sensors: RBV, MSS Altitude: nominally 900 km Inclination: 99.2° Orbit: polar, sun-synchronous Equatorial Crossing Time: nominally 9:42 AM mean local time Read more [...]

L7 bands compared to L8 band
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 8

Landsat 1 • Landsat 2 • Landsat 3 • Landsat 4 • Landsat 5 • Landsat 6 • Landsat 7 • Landsat 8   Landsat 8 launched on February 11, 2013, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on an Atlas-V 401 rocket, with Read more [...]

Landsat 7
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 7

Landsat 1 • Landsat 2 • Landsat 3 • Landsat 4 • Landsat 5 • Landsat 6 • Landsat 7 • Landsat 8 The government-owned Landsat 7 was successfully launched on April 15, 1999, from the Western Test Range of Vandenberg Air Read more [...]

Landsat 6
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 6

Landsat 1 • Landsat 2 • Landsat 3 • Landsat 4 • Landsat 5 • Landsat 6 • Landsat 7 • Landsat 8 On October 5, 1993 the EOSAT-owned Landsat 6 failed at launch after not reaching the velocity necessary to obtain orbit. The Read more [...]

Landsat 5
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 5

Landsat 1 • Landsat 2 • Landsat 3 • Landsat 4 • Landsat 5 • Landsat 6 • Landsat 7 • Landsat 8 On March 1, 1984, NASA launched Landsat 5, the agency’s last originally mandated Landsat satellite. Landsat 5 was designed Read more [...]

Landsat 4
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 4

Landsat 1 • Landsat 2 • Landsat 3 • Landsat 4 • Landsat 5 • Landsat 6 • Landsat 7 • Landsat 8 Landsat 4 was launched on July 16, 1982. The Landsat 4 spacecraft was significantly different than that of the previous Landsats, Read more [...]

Landsat 3
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 3

Landsat 1 • Landsat 2 • Landsat 3 • Landsat 4 • Landsat 5 • Landsat 6 • Landsat 7 • Landsat 8 Landsat 3 was launched on March 5, 1978, three years after Landsat 2. The Landsat program’s technical and scientific Read more [...]

Landsat 2
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 2

Landsat 1 • Landsat 2 • Landsat 3 • Landsat 4 • Landsat 5 • Landsat 6 • Landsat 7 • Landsat 8 Landsat 2 was launched on January 22, 1975, two and a half years after Landsat 1. The second Landsat was still considered Read more [...]

Landsat 1
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 1

Landsat 1 • Landsat 2 • Landsat 3 • Landsat 4 • Landsat 5 • Landsat 6 • Landsat 7 • Landsat 8 Landsat 1 was launched on July 23, 1972; at that time the satellite was known as the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS). Read more [...]

Landsat timeline
Jan 21, 2013A Landsat Timeline

The small white arrow in the Landsat 7 arrow indicates the collection of data without the Scan Line Corrector. Remarkably, Landsat 5 delivered high-quality, global data of Earth’s land surface for 28 years and 10 months, officially setting a [...]

Washington's Olympic Peninsula
Jan 16, 2013Determining range readiness, biomass and health

Contributor: Curtis E. Woodcock, Boston University Fire, drought, and humans all can destroy forests and their ecosystems. While much attention is paid to deforestation in tropical rainforests, very few comprehensive studies have been done to [...]

image looking towards the West Antarctic Ice Sheet
Jan 16, 2013Measuring changes and extent of glacial features

Contributor: Robert Bindschadler, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center The stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is an issue of active research and societal concern because of the potential economic impact resulting from an increase in global [...]

Lake Djoudj
Aug 18, 2006Lake Djoudj, Senegal

In August 2006, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), released an atlas entitled: "Africa's Lakes: Atlas of Our Changing Environment." The atlas relies heavily on Landsat imagery from the past 34 years to show changes in lakes around [...]

false-color infrared image of U.S./Mexico border
Jun 18, 2006Tracking socioeconomic impacts on land use

Location: California-Mexico Border Source: USGS Earthshots These images show the different land use patterns of El Centro, California, and the urban area of Mexicali/Calexico on the California-Mexico border. From 1970 to 1990, these cities' [...]

Landsat TM mosaic of Minnesota made with six Landsat images
Jun 18, 2006Characterizing forest range vegetation

A mosaic of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) images with overlays of aerial photography flightlines (N-S lines) and boundaries of physiographic strata was created to help inventory the forests of Minnesota. The image data for the project consisted [...]

dramatic forest fires that occurred in and adjacent to Yellowstone National Park
Jun 18, 2006Assessing and monitoring grass and forest fires

Contributor: Jan van Wagtendonk, U. S. Geological Survey In recent years, wildland fires have become more intense resulting in increased loss of human life and natural resource damage. An important factor in dealing with this problem is [...]

Estimated usable aquifer lifetime of the High Plains Aquifer on the Nebraska/Colorado border overlayed on a Landsat image.
Jun 18, 2006Assessing drought impact

Contributor: Alexander F. H. Goetz, University of Colorado at Boulder More than 10 percent of the United States' High Plains region is made up of sand dunes and sand sheets that are currently stabilized by the natural grasses growing on them and [...]

Steam from the Pu'u O'o eruption as lava enters the ocean, on the island of Hawai'i in May 2001.
Jun 18, 2006Mapping volcanic surface deposits

Contributor: Luke Flynn, University of Hawaii To understand the complex "plumbing" beneath active volcanic lave lakes and determine the amount of lava flowing from them, Luke Flynn of the University of Hawaii has been using time series of [...]

This Landsat 7 thermal image shows the thermal bar along the shore of Lake Ontario
Apr 21, 2005Monitoring lake inventories and health

Contributor: John Schott, Rochester Institute of Technology As snow begins to melt at the close of winter, large lakes receive warm spring river run-off carrying pollutants that are potentially harmful to phytoplankton and the fish that feed on [...]

False-color infrared images of Mt. St. Helens
May 18, 2000Monitoring volcanic flow activity

Location: Mt. St. Helens, Washington These satellite images show the area around Mount St. Helens, in southwestern Washington, before and after its eruption of May 18, 1980. The initial volcanic blast devastated more than 150 square miles of [...]

image shows urban growth in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region
Jan 15, 2000Monitoring urban growth

Contributor: Jeffrey G. Masek, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Traffic jams and air pollution in large metropolitan areas are sure signs of expanding populations. Across the globe, 50 percent of the world's population now lives in urban areas, [...]

Jan 15, 2000Monitoring crop and forest harvests

Contributor: David Skole Michigan State University Even though tropical deforestation is a well-known problem, the rate of deforestation in the tropics is currently known to only a very general degree. Recent research using Landsat images of [...]

Landsat false-color infrared image of Long Island, Bahamas.
Jan 15, 1999Mapping shoals, reefs and shallow areas

Location: Long Island, Bahamas The red colors in this Landsat false-color infrared composite image of Long Island, Bahamas, give us an indication of its lush vegetation. The different shades of blue, west of the island represent varying water [...]

Maricopa Agricultural Center, Arizona.
May 21, 1997Precision farming land management

Contributor: Susan Moran, U.S. Department of Agriculture For farmers and land managers, increasing crop yields and cutting costs while reducing environmental pollution is a constant challenge. To accomplish this goal, many farm managers are [...]

mosaic of the Imperial Valley
Jun 30, 1992Monitoring irrigation practices

Location: Imperial Valley, California Source: USGS Earthshots The Imperial Valley is actually an extension of the Gulf of California, cut off from the Gulf by the Colorado River's delta fan. The area south of the border is known as the Mexicali [...]

Landsat false-color infrared images of Rondônia, Brazil.
Jan 14, 1992Monitoring deforestation

Location: Rondônia, Brazil Source: USGS Earthshots These images show a portion of the state of Rondônia, Brazil, in which tropical deforestation has occurred. The 1975 and 1986 images are MSS data. The 1992 image is TM data. Approximately Read [...]

Sediment densities in the Gulf of Thailand at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River.
Dec 14, 1990Determining patterns and extent of turbidity

Location: Chao Phraya River, Thailand Landsat TM image showing sediment in the Gulf of Thailand at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River. Colors represent different concentrations of sediment. Sediment load in rivers can be affected by land-use [...]

Sediment densities in the Gulf of Thailand
Dec 14, 1990Determining patterns and extent of turbidity

Location: Chao Phraya River, Thailand Landsat TM image showing sediment in the Gulf of Thailand at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River. Colors represent different concentrations of sediment. Sediment load in rivers can be affected by land-use [...]

Mapping floods and flood plain characteristics
Dec 18, 1987Mapping floods and flood plain characteristics

Location: Great Salt Lake, Utah Source: USGS Earthshots The Great Salt Lake is a terminal lake, with no outlet rivers running to the ocean. This means the lake responds dramatically to changes in inflow. Rainy weather beginning in 1982 brought [...]

Stereo image of Bolivia's Camargo syncline
Jun 16, 1986Cartographic mapping: 3-D Map Stereo Projections

Location: Camargo Syncline, Bolivia Source: RSD Portal This is a perspective view of the Camargo syncline in central Bolivia. It was created from a true stereo pair of images taken one year apart (June 6, 1985 and June 16, 1986) in Landsat TM [...]

Landsat TM image of the Harrisburg region acquired on Oct. 30, 1984.
Oct 30, 1984Mapping major geologic features

Location: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania This Landsat view shows Harrisburg and the Appalachian Mountains of central Pennsylvania. The Piedmont province is visible in the lower right corner. The Great Valley runs SW-NE across the center of view, and [...]