Landsat Missions

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Landsat data products are available at no charge and can be used without restrictions by all users. Landsat Level-1 and Higher-Level data products are suitable for use in science-based studies. The tabs below provide information about each Landsat data product available, and the portals from which data can be accessed, discovered and downloaded.

 

Since 1972, the Landsat satellites have observed Earth from space, providing data that help the public and scientific community understand the state and condition of its surface through time. Users can download any of the millions of scenes in the USGS archive collected by the Landsat suite of satellites at no charge.

Color composites created using Landsat Level-1 data product. From left: True Color, False Color Infrared, Pseudo Natural Color.)

These composites were created using Landsat Level-1 data product band files. From left: True Color, False Color Infrared, Pseudo Natural Color.

Available Data Products

Currently, both Landsat 8 and Landsat 7 collect data, each following a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit on the Worldwide Reference System (WRS-2). Each satellite has a 16-day revisit cycle, and their orbits are offset to provide 8-day repeat coverage.

Most acquired scenes are downlinked to the Landsat Ground Network and made available for download within 24 hours of acquisition. Unique scenes downlinked to International Cooperators are also ingested into the USGS global archive, and are made available upon receipt.

Landsat Level-1 standard data products are processed to standard parameters, and distributed as scaled and calibrated digital numbers (DN). The DN’s can be scaled to absolutely calibrated radiance or reflectance values using metadata distributed with the product (see conversion algorithms for Landsat 1-7 and Landsat 8)

The Landsat Science Data Users Handbooks serve as a comprehensive resource for each of the spacecraft, payloads, ground processing systems, and methodologies for using Landsat data in science studies:

Landsat 7 Science Data Users Handbook
Landsat 8 Science Data Users Handbook

Landsat product generation is in transition to a collection management scheme. The goal is to create a stable archive in which(1) sensors are cross- and absolutely-calibrated, (2) the georegistration of the scenes is known and consistent, and (3) the product format is stable. Any product improvement that would create a discontinuity within the archive will cause a new collection to be established and the archive to be reprocessed to re-establish the stability of the archive. A Landsat Product Generation system (LPGS) release, scheduled for 2016, will result in new products that will be designated as Collection 1. Information about previous releases and plans will be provided on an upcoming Collection Management webpage.

The sections below provide additional information Landsat Level-1 standard data products.

Data Access

Landsat Level-1 data can be requested via the Internet, and downloaded at no charge. The Landsat Data Access page directs users to the available ordering interfaces.

Metadata and Data Descriptions

Landsat metadata files contain information that can be useful in locating specific data files in the archive inventory, and is also valuable to users about certain product characteristics.

Changes are occasionally made to the metadata files, in order to improve data quality and usability. The Metadata page provides details of recent metadata and processing changes that affect the discovery and use of Landsat data, and also displays an example of a Landsat metadata (MTL.txt) file.

Landsat metadata is delivered with the Level-1 standard data products, and can be accessed in csv and xml files from the Bulk Metadata Download tool.

Data Format Control Books (DFCBs) are available for all Landsat data products. These documents describe the format and content of the Landsat data products and metadata. DFCBs are listed in the last section on the Project Documentation webpage.

Calibration

Data quality measures are in place to inform users whether the integrity of Landsat data has been affected by anything from instrument artifacts to production software updates.  Calibration validation is an ongoing quality check for the Landsat sensors, along with software research and development to enhance or improve the algorithms used to produce Level-1 products.

The Calibration page describes parameter updates, known anomalies, and other factors affecting data usability.

Geometry

The Geometry web page provides information on the geometric accuracy, the levels of processing, and ground control point (GCP) information about the Landsat Level-1 data products.

Pixel-level Metadata

The Landsat Quality Assessment Band web page describes how the use of Quality Assessment (QA) bits improve the integrity of science investigations, by indicating which pixels might be affected by instrument artifacts or subject to cloud contamination. The generation of a QA band is currently only available for Landsat 8 OLI/TIRS data.

A future Solar Illumination and Sensor Viewing Angle Coefficient File web page will describe the file format and application of the angle data. The file stores the coefficients needed to convert radiances to reflectance data with solar illumination corrected. The Sensor Viewing angles are needed for the creation of some science products.

The Angle Coefficient file is currently not included in the Landsat data products. Example data and code needed to read the angle coefficient files will become available before the file is added to the Level-1 products.

Known Issues

The Known Issues web page describes known artifacts that exist in the Landsat product. These artifacts vary widely between the MSS, TM, ETM+ and OLI/TIRS sensors caused by specific sensor characteristics and anomalies identified after launch.

Landsat data are systematic, geometric, radiometric, and terrain corrected to provide the highest quality data to the user communities. Occasionally, anomalies occur and artifacts are discovered that require research and monitoring.

The Landsat Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val) team investigates and tracks anomalous data.  Details about a number of anomalies that have been discovered and investigated can be found on the Landsat Known Issues page.

 

Higher Level Science Data Products (such as Climate Data Records (CDR) and Essential Climate Variables (ECV)) can be used to document changes to Earth's terrestrial environment, and provide an authoritative basis for regional to continental scale identification of historical change, monitoring current conditions, and helping to predict future scenarios.

Higher level science data products are processed consistently to create a continuous record of the effects of climate change on Earth’s surface. They include products such as Surface Reflectance and Surface Temperature.

Additional higher level science data products represent specific geophysical and biophysical properties of the land surface, such as Burned Area, Surface Water Extent, and Snow Covered Area.

The images above are mosaics created using Landsat 8 Level-1 data (left) and Provisional Landsat 8 Surface Reflectance data (right). Images created December 2014.
The images above are mosaics created using Landsat 8 Level-1 data (left) and Provisional Landsat 8 Surface Reflectance data (right). Images created December 2014.

Important Information about Higher Level Science Data Products

The Landsat Higher Level Science Data Product page provides information on current and future data products, along with updates to existing algorithms or processing changes.

Available Data Products

Currently, Landsat Surface Reflectance data are available.  It is available for Landsat data acquired from August 1982 to present, with some exceptions (See the Caveats and Constraints section.) Surface Reflectance-derived Spectral Indices have also been created, including a number of vegetation indices, moisture indices, and burn ratios. Other higher level data products will become available as they complete development.

The Landsat Surface Reflectance High Level Data Products page provides information about higher level science data products, as well as links to data access portals and product documentation.

Metadata

Landsat Surface Reflectance metadata (xml) files contain significant information that can be used to help find specific data files in the archive inventory, and to inform users of certain product characteristics. The metadata files may vary, based on which interface is used to order the product.

The Metadata page provides examples of the metadata files delivered with Surface Reflectance data products.

Quality

Data quality measures are in place to provide users indications of whether the integrity of higher level science data products has been affected by instrument artifacts, production software updates, or atmospheric conditions.

The Quality page presents how conditions that affect the collection or calculation of data values are described in the Landsat Surface Reflectance data.

Data Access

Processing requests for Surface Reflectance and other higher level science data products can be submitted at no charge, with data products ready within 1 to 3 days.

The Higher Level Science Data Access page directs users to the available ordering interfaces.

There are a number of ways to access data held in the USGS archives. There are no restrictions on Landsat data downloaded from USGS EROS, and it can be used or redistributed as desired. However, a statement of the data source when citing, copying, or reprinting USGS Landsat data or images is requested. Details can be found on the EROS Data Citation page.

Landsat Level-1 Data Products

Landsat Level-1 Data Products held in the USGS archives can be searched on the following pages:

EarthExplorer - allows geographical searches of data held in the USGS archives

Global Visualization Viewer (GloVis) - a browse-based viewer for USGS Landsat Archive data sets

LandsatLook Viewer - a prototype tool that allows rapid online viewing and access to the USGS Landsat archive

The Level-1 Data Products for many scenes are available for immediate download from the websites listed above; processing requests (order) can be placed for scenes not downloadable, using the same websites. After an order is placed and the data are processed, an email notification is returned with the direct download location. Processing generally takes 1-3 days.

Before downloading Landsat data, it is important to understand that a number of files will be included, and how the individual band files work together in image processing software to create a final RGB color image. Please see these pages for more details:

Landsat Data Bulk Download - This link will open the USGS Registration Sign In page. After successful sign in, the Bulk Download page will be displayed, with instructions on using this utility.

High Level Science Data Products

Surface Reflectance and other high level science data products can be ordered through the following pages:

USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center Science Processing Architecture (ESPA) On Demand Interface

To begin the order, upload a text file (*.txt) listing one Landsat Level-1 or MODIS scene identifier (filename) on each line. Scene identifiers can be found in the search results on EarthExplorer or GloVis.

After uploading the scene list text file, a number of options can be selected, including:

  • Source products (Original input Level-1 product or metadata)
  • Top of Atmosphere Reflectance, Surface Reflectance (SR), or Band 6 Brightness Temperature products
  • Surface Reflectance-based Spectral Indices (NDVI, NDMI, NBR, SAVI, EVI
  • Customizable output options: data format, reprojection, modifying the image extents, and pixel resizing
  • Intercomparison and Output Product Statistics Plotting

All orders submitted through ESPA are processed within 2-5 days. Email notifications are sent after the order is placed, and also after the data is processed and ready to download. *Note: Data requested through ESPA are not accessible using the EarthExplorer interface or Bulk Download Application (BDA).

EarthExplorer

EarthExplorer allows ordering of only the Surface Reflectance (SR) data product. Requests from EarthExplorer are sent to the ESPA On-Demand interface for processing and data delivery.

Download ESPA On-demand Orders with RSS Feed + DownThemAll FireFox Plugin

LandsatLook images are full resolution files that are included as options when downloading Landsat data from EarthExplorer, GloVis or the LandsatLook Viewer

Derived from Landsat Level-1 data products, these images are useful for image selection and for visual interpretation. The JPEG compression algorithm causes minor smoothing of the data which should not affect image interpretation. However, these JPEG compressed images should not be used in digital analysis.

LandsatLook products

LandsatLook "Natural Color" Image

The LandsatLook "Natural Color" Image is a composite using three bands to show a 'natural' looking image.

  • Landsat 8 OLI: Bands 6, 5, and 4
  • Landsat 7 ETM+: Bands 5, 4, and 3
  • Landsat 4-5 TM: Bands 5, 4, and 3
  • Landsat 1-5 MSS: Bands 2, 4, and 1

LandsatLook "Thermal" Image

The LandsatLook "Thermal" Image is a one-band gray scale image used to display thermal properties.

  • Landsat 8 TIRS: Band 10
  • Landsat 7 ETM+: Band 6-1, high gain
  • Landsat 4-5 TM: Band 6
  • Landsat 1-5 MSS: Not available

LandsatLook "Quality" Image

The LandsatLook “Quality” Image (Landsat 8 only) is an 8-bit quality band file (.png) that includes pixel color mapping assignments, as shown in the table above. The bit assignments shown in this table do not apply to the LandsatLook Quality Image file, so this file should be used for display purposes only. (Note that pixels without a color assignment are transparent and will show up as background color in photo viewer applications. To view the .png correctly, you must change your photo viewer background to a color not shown in the table above.)

*GDAL XML and ESRI referencing systems demonstrate high standards. ESRI world files are simple and widely supported, but do not include projection information. GDAL XML files are less well supported, but contain important projection information.

LandsatLook Images with Geographic Reference

LandsatLook Images with Geographic Reference is a 'bundle' that includes both the natural color and thermal .jpg images along with geographic reference files to import into a geographic information system or image processing software packages

  • Uses Geospatial Data Abstraction Library Extensible Markup Language files (GDAL XML) and ESRI World Files*
  • In some software packages, it will be necessary to import the .wld and .xml files separately to successfully create a georeferenced image.

The Landsat 8 Geographic Reference bundle also includes the 8-bit quality band (.png) generated from the 16-bit quality band. The 8-bit quality band includes values representing bit-packed combinations of surface, atmosphere, and sensor conditions that can affect the overall usefulness of a given pixel.

The table below gives the bits and colors associated with the 8-bit quality band:

8-Bit LandsatLook QA Band - Read bits from RIGHT to LEFT <- starting with Bit 0
Bit 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Description Cloud* Cirrus* Snow/Ice* Vegetation* Water* Terrain Occlusion Dropped Frame Designated Fill
                 
*Set for highest confidence value (11)

 

LandsatLook “Natural Color” Image: Landsat 8 Path 45 Row 30 Acquired April 23, 2013
Figure 1. LandsatLook “Natural Color” Image: Landsat 8 Path 45 Row 30 Acquired April 23, 2013
LandsatLook “Thermal” Image of Landsat 8 Path 45 Row 30 Acquired April 23, 2013
Figure 2. LandsatLook “Thermal” Image of Landsat 8 Path 45 Row 30 Acquired April 23, 2013
LandsatLook “Quality” Image of Landsat 8 Path 45 Row 30 Acquired April 23, 2013
Figure 3. LandsatLook “Quality” Image of Landsat 8 Path 45 Row 30 Acquired April 23, 2013 with photo viewer background color set to dark grey.

 

Additional Information about LandsatLook images

About .jpeg images:

Most geographic information systems and image processing software packages easily support .jpeg images. To create the .jpeg images, the Landsat data is mapped to a 1-255 range, with the fill area set to zero. If a no-data value is set to zero, the compression algorithm may introduce zero-value artifacts into the data area causing very dark data values to be displayed as no-data. Other image formats support a layer that explicitly defines the mask area. (Two examples are PNG and JPEG2000. The PNG algorithm creates much larger images. The JPEG2000 algorithm is not as widely supported.)

Top of Atmosphere (TOA):

Reflectance values were calculated from the calibrated scaled DN image data. The reflectance values were scaled to a 1-255 range using a gamma stretch with a gamma=2.0. This stretch was designed to emphasize vegetation without clipping the extreme values.

Thermal band Units:

Image brightness temperature values were calculated from the calibrated scaled DN image data. An image specific 2% clip and a linear stretch to 1-255 were applied to the brightness temperature values.

The Global Land Survey (GLS) data sets were designed to allow scientists and data users to have access to a consistent, terrain corrected, coordinated collection of data. Five epochs have been created, each using the primary Landsat sensor in use at the time:

  • GLS1975: uses Multispectral Scanner (MSS) data
  • GLS1990: uses Landsat 4-5 Thematic Mapper (TM) data
  • GLS2000: uses Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) data
  • GLS2005: uses a combination of Landsat TM and ETM+ data
  • GLS2010: uses a combination of Landsat TM and ETM+ data

These images of New York City, New York and surrounding areas are examples of the Global Land Surveys (GLS) data sets. From left:  GLS1975, GLS1990, GLS2000, GLS2005, and GLS1010.

These images of New York City, New York and surrounding areas are examples of the Global Land Surveys (GLS) data sets. From left: GLS1975, GLS1990, GLS2000, GLS2005, and GLS1010.

The Landsat data incorporated into each GLS data set meets quality and cloud cover standards, and is processed to the following parameters:

  • Data Resolution (Reflective bands): 30 meters (Landsat MSS: 60 meters)
  • Data Format: GeoTIFF (Level-1 product), Full-resolution .jpg (LandsatLook images)
  • Resampling: Cubic Convolution
  • Projection: Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM)
  • Datum: WGS84

The Global Land Survey data sets are scene-based, and can be searched and downloaded at no charge from EarthExplorer (http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/) or GloVis (http://glovis.usgs.gov/).

Two Web-enabled Landsat Data (WELD) projects have produced large area 30-meter composited mosaics from Landsat terrain corrected (Level-1T) data. Both projects are funded by NASA's Making Earth System Data Records for Use in Research Environments program with significant USGS cost sharing.

The WELD data products are processed so users do not need to apply the equations, spectral calibration coefficients, and solar information, needed to convert Landsat digital numbers to reflectance and brightness temperature. They are defined in the same coordinate system and align precisely, making them simple to use for multi-temporal applications. The products provide consistent data that can be used to derive higher-level land cover as well as geo-physical and biophysical products for assessment of surface dynamics and to study Earth system functioning. WELD data products are available to download for all users at no charge.

Images showing  available CONUS WELD data (weld.cr.usgs.gov)

Images showing available CONUS WELD data (weld.cr.usgs.gov)

Important Information about WELD Products

The webpages provided in the sections below provide accessibility and usability information WELD data products. As updates to data processing and data use are made, notices will be posted to the Mission Headlines box on the Landsat Homepage, and will be added to the appropriate pages in the sections below.

Available Data Products

Global WELD: Monthly and annual 30-meter global composites generated from contemporaneous Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) and Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) data for all non-Antarctic land surfaces are available for 3-year epochs.  Products are available in Geographic Tagged Image File Format (GeoTIFF) through an interactive Web interface, or as Hierarchical Data Format (HDF) tiles from a direct download site.

The Available Data Products page provides information about the Global WELD products, known issues, and future plans.

CONUS and Alaska WELD: Weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual 30-meter continental U.S. (CONUS) and Alaska composites generated from Landsat 7 ETM+ data are available for 10 years (2003-2012).  Products are available in Geographic Tagged Image File Format (GeoTIFF) through an interactive Web interface, or as Hierarchical Data Format (HDF) tiles from a direct download site.

The Available Data Products page provides information about the CONUS and Alaska WELD products, known issues, and future plans.

Metadata

WELD products do not include metadata files, other than basic specifications written into headers or tags.  Quality information can be requested with an order, however, such as pixel source parameters, saturation flags, and cloud states.

The Metadata  page includes a section “Version 1.5 Product Documentation” that contains product content, format, and projection information.

Quality

As a static collection, WELD products are not actively checked for quality characteristics that might otherwise affect the integrity of data values.

The Quality page for Global WELD includes a section on “Version 2.2 Product Quality” with useful information about known issues, product improvements, accuracy, consistency, and future plans.

The Quality page for CONUS and Alaska WELD includes a section on “Version 1.5 Product Quality” with useful information about known issues, product improvements, accuracy, consistency, and future plans.

Data Access

WELD products are available for direct download as tiles, and are also orderable at no charge from a visual interface.

The CONUS/Alaska WELD Interface directs users through an interactive Web ordering system.  The CONUS/Alaska WELD Download Site allows direct access to product tiles.

The Global WELD Interface directs users through an interactive Web ordering system.  The Global WELD Download Site allows direct access to product tiles.

About

Landsat represents the world's longest continuously acquired collection of space-based moderate-resolution land remote sensing data. Four decades of imagery provides a unique resource for those who work in agriculture, geology, forestry, regional planning, education, mapping, and global change research. Landsat images are also invaluable for emergency response and disaster relief.

 

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