How Landsat Works

Landsat is more than just a camera with a great zoom lens orbiting Earth.  Landsat measures light reflected by Earth from the sun.  The light that Landsat measures reveals a lot about the earth’s surface, since different surfaces reflect various types of light. In the Tour of the Electromagnetic Spectrum you can learn about the types of light that exist and through Landsat More Than a Pretty Picture  (PDF) you can discover the types of light that Landsat measures to create a number of useful images. These images reveal more about Earth than meets the eye. Once you’ve learned how Landsat works, make your own Landsat image and experiment with different combinations of light.

What is Landsat?

Spacecraft and Instruments

Learn about TIRS, OLI, and the other components that make up Landsat 8.

How is a Landsat Image Made?

More than a Pretty Picture: The Making of Landsat Images 

(PDF, 23.8 MB)

A presentation about how Landsat images are made. 

Tour of the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Learn about the different types of light or radiation that make up the electromagnetic spectrum.

How Do I Make My Own Landsat Image?

LandsatLook Viewer

Search the world for Landsat images with the LandsatLook Viewer.  Zoom into areas and choose from a variety of images to download.  Use this tool to easily locate Landsat data and images for any location.