Sample RSR plot
Mar 11, 2016Spectral Response of the Multispectral Scanner System
In-Band, Band-Average Relative Spectral Response

< The Multispectral Scanner System   The band-average relative spectral radiance responses of the Landsat-1 through -5 Multispectral Scanner System (MSS) instruments are provided below as extracted from the best reproductions of the original data available. The original measurement data has been lost to history and the only remaining source of the relative spectral responses […]

Moon above Earth
Jul 11, 2014Landsat Looks to the Moon

Every full moon, Landsat 8 turns its back on Earth. As the satellite’s orbit takes it to the nighttime side of the planet, Landsat 8 pivots to point at the moon. It scans the distant lunar surface multiple times, then flips back around to continue its task of collecting land-cover information of the sunny side of Earth below. These monthly lunar scans are key to ensuring the land-imaging instrument aboard Landsat 8 is detecting light consistently. For a well-known and stable source of light, nothing on our planet beats the moon, which lacks an atmosphere and has an unchanging surface, barring the odd meteorite.

SOM projection
Jun 26, 2014John Parr Snyder’s Space Oblique Mercator Projection

To continually map the Earth’s surface using Landsat data, an entirely new projection had to be created. This new projection was created by John Parr Snyder and is known as the Space Oblique Mercator (SOM) projection. It is considered, “one of the most complex projections ever devised” according to cartographic historian, John W. Hessler.

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 on the highly accurate measurements of Earth’s thermal energy obtained by Landsat 5 and Landsat […]

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 multi-spectral spatial resolutions along a 185 km (115 miles) wide swath, covering wide areas of the Earth’s landscape while […]

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 node) Period of Revolution : 99 minutes; ~14.5 orbits/day Repeat Coverage : 16 days + read about the history of Landsat 8 More Technical Details Landsat 1 Landsat 2 Landsat 3 Landsat 4 […]

LDCM launch
May 8, 2013Commissioning the Landsat Data Continuity Mission

May 8, 2013 • On the beautifully clear Monday morning of Feb. 11, 2013, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission made its way from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base to low Earth orbit. The more than 1,000 Landsat scientists, engineers, data users, and fans gathered to watch the launch breathed a collective sigh of relief as […]

Effect of gain degradation on TOA 30% reflector
Mar 19, 2013Landsat 7 Lifetime Degradation in Gains

Mar. 19, 2013 • The great strength of Landsat is its ability to let data users look at and analyze changes to the Earth’s landscapes from 1972 to the present. Accurate quantitative analysis of such change is dependent on consistent Landsat data from Landsat instrument to instrument (i.e. the Multispectral Scanner, Thematic Mapper, Enhanced Thematic Mapper […]

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 WRS has proven valuable for the cataloging, referencing, and day-to-day use of imagery transmitted […]

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 the MSS sensor. TM data are sensed in seven spectral bands simultaneously. Band 6 senses thermal (heat) infrared radiation. Landsat can only acquire night […]

Jan 21, 2013The Multispectral Scanner System

MSS Relative Spectral Response >   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 of the four spectral bands for each mirror sweep. The forward motion of the satellite […]

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 in VNIR, SWIR, LWIR and panchromatic bands from the sun-lit Earth in a 183 km wide swath when orbiting at an altitude of 705 km. The […]

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 m 5 1.55-1.75 30 m 6 10.4-12.5 120 m 7 2.08-2.35 30 m […]

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 10 AM (± 15 min.) local time (descending node) Period of Revolution : 99 minutes; ~14.5 orbits/day Repeat Coverage : 16 days + read about the history of Landsat 7 More Technical Details […]

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 8 The Worldwide Reference System

Landsat 5
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 5

The Details Launch Date: March 1, 1984 Status: Decommissioned January 2013 Sensors: TM, MSS Altitude: 705 km Inclination: 98.2° Orbit: polar, sun-synchronous Equatorial Crossing Time: nominally 9:45 AM (± 15 min.) local time (descending node) Period of Revolution : 99 minutes; ~14.5 orbits/day Repeat Coverage : 16 days + read about the history of Landsat 5 More Technical Details Landsat 1 Landsat 2 Landsat 3 […]

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 time (descending node) Period of Revolution : 99 minutes; ~14.5 orbits/day Repeat Coverage : 16 days + read about the history of Landsat 4 More Technical Details Landsat 1 Landsat 2 Landsat […]

Landsat 3
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 3

The Details Launch Date: March 5, 1978 Status: put into standby mode: March 31, 1983; decommissioned: Sept. 7, 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 (descending node) Period of Revolution : 103 minutes; ~14 orbits/day Repeat Coverage : 18 days + read about the history of Landsat 3 More Technical […]

Landsat 2
Jan 21, 2013Landsat 2

The Details Launch Date: January 22, 1975 Status: removed from operational status: February 5, 1982; decommissioned: July 27, 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 (descending node) Period of Revolution : 103 minutes; ~14 orbits/day Repeat Coverage : 18 days + read about the history of Landsat 2 More Technical Details […]

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 (descending node) Period of Revolution : 103 minutes; ~14 orbits/day Repeat Coverage : 18 days + read about the history of Landsat 1 More Technical Details Landsat 1 Landsat 2 Landsat 3 Landsat […]