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 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 Landsat 8’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 instead uses 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.


OLI Bands

Band Number µm Resolution
1 0.433–0.453 30 m
2 0.450–0.515 30 m
3 0.525–0.600 30 m
4 0.630–0.680 30 m
5 0.845–0.885 30 m
6 1.560–1.660 60 m
7 2.100–2.300 30 m
8 0.500–0.680 15 m
9 1.360–1.390 30 m

OLI Technical Specifications

  • Sensor type: push broom
  • Spatial Resolution: 30 m (15-m pan)
  • Spectral Range: 0.43 – 1.39 µm
  • Number of Bands: 9
  • Temporal Resolution: 16 days
  • Image Size: 185 km X 180 km
  • Swath: 185 km
  • Programmable: yes