The Operational Land Imager (OLI), built by the Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, will measure in the visible, near infrared, and short wave infrared portions of the spectrum. Its images will have 15-meter (49 ft.) panchromatic and 30-meter multi-spectral spatial resolutions along a 185 km (115 miles) wide swath, covering wide areas of the Earth’s landscape while providing sufficient resolution to distinguish features like urban centers, farms, forests and other land uses. The entire Earth will fall within view once every 16 days due to LDCM’s near-polar orbit.
OLI’s design is an advancement in Landsat sensor technology and uses an approach demonstrated by the Advanced Land Imager sensor flown on NASA’s experimental EO-1 satellite. Instruments on earlier Landsat satellites employed scan mirrors to sweep the instrument fields of view across the surface swath width and transmit light to a few detectors. The OLI will instead use long detector arrays, with over 7,000 detectors per spectral band, aligned across its focal plane to view across the swath. This “push-broom” design results in a more sensitive instrument providing improved land surface information with fewer moving parts. With an improved signal-to-noise ratio compared to past Landsat instruments, engineers expect this new OLI design to be more reliable and to provide improved performance.
NASA released an RFP in January 2007 for an OLI to acquire visible, near infrared, and short wave infrared image data from an LDCM spacecraft. The RFP specified instrument performance rather than a specific technology although the specifications were informed by the performance of the ALI push broom sensor. NASA awarded a contract to Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation (BATC) in July 2007 after an evaluation of proposals.
Excerpt courtesy of Remote Sensing of Environment 122, James R. Irons, John L. Dwyer, and Julia A. Barsi , The next Landsat satellite: The Landsat Data Continuity Mission, 11-21, Copyright 2012, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2011.08.026, with permission from Elsevier
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