LANDSAT

This US (NASA and USGS) satellite remote sensing programme was the first civil Earth-observing satellite programme. It started with the first Landsat satellite’s launch in 1972 and is continuing with Landsat 7, still operational. For almost 40 years, the Landsat program has continuously collected spectral information from Earth’s surface; this unparalleled data archive gives scientist the ability to assess changes in Earth’s landscape. Since June 2009, the entire Landsat image archive is available at no charge online (see website Earth Explorer from the U.S. Geological Survey).


The first LANDSAT series
The first three satellites were identical and their payloads consisted of two optical instruments, a multispectral sensor (MultiSpectral Scanner or MSS)and a series of video cameras (Return Beam Vidicons or RBVs).

altitude: 907-915 km
inclination: 99.2 degrees
orbit: sun-synchronous polar
orbit period: 103 minutes
revisit time: 18 days

satellites : LANDSAT 1 (23/07/1972 - 06/01/1978)
  LANDSAT 2 (22/01/1975 - 05/02/1982)
  LANDSAT 3 (05/03/1978 - 31/03/1983)

RBV sensors
The payloads of the first two satellites included a series of three video cameras that took pictures in the visible and infrared bands. The resolution was 80m for 185 x 185km images. The resolution of the images acquired by Landsat 3 was raised to 40m, but the cameras took images in a single panchromatic spectral band (0.5-0.75µm) only.

MSS sensors
These mechanical sensors collected information in four spectral bands and over a 185 x 185km area. Since this instrument was developed after the three RBV cameras, these bands were numbered from 4 to 7. Landsat 3’s multispectral scanner included an additional spectral band in the thermal infrared band.

Band
Spectral band
Resolution
4 0,5 - 0,6 µm 79 m x 82 m
5 0,6 - 0,7 µm 79 m x 82 m
6 0,7 - 0,8 µm 79 m x 82 m
7 0,8 - 1,1 µm 79 m x 82 m
8 10,5 - 12,4 µm 240 m x 240 m (LANDSAT 3 only)


The second LANDSAT series

The next two satellites (LANDSAT 4 and 5) were equipped with two mutispectral sensors, i.e., a multispectral scanner (MSS) and a Thematic Mapper (TM).

altitude: 705 km
inclination: 98.2 degrees
orbit: sun-synchronous polar
orbit period: 98.9 minutes
revisit time: 16 days

satellites : LANDSAT 4 (16/07/1982 – 07/1987)
  LANDSAT 5 (01/03/1985 – operational)

MSS sensors
These scanners were identical to those on the first two Landsat satellites. The only difference was that the four spectral bands were numbered from 1 to 4 since the RBVs were no longer used. Landsat 5’s MSS stopped acquiring data in 1992.

Band
Spectral band
Resolution
Use
1 0,5 - 0,6 µm 79 m x 82 m
Coastal zones, marine sediments
2 0,6 - 0,7 µm 79 m x 82 m
Roads and urban areas
3 0,7 - 0,8 µm 79 m x 82 m
Plant studies and mapping of earth/water boundaries
4 0,8 - 1,1 µm 79 m x 82 m
Plant studies and mapping of earth/water boundaries

TM sensors

These high-resolution scanners have seven spectral bands and always cover a 185 x 185 km area.

Band
Spectral band
Resolution
Use
1 0,45 - 0,52 µm 30 m x 30 m
Ground/plants differentiation, coastal zones
2 0,52 - 0,60 µm 30 m x 30 m Vegetation
3 0,63 - 0,69 µm 30 m x 30 m Plant species differentiation
4 0,76 - 0,90 30 m x 30 m Biomass
5 1,55 - 1,75 µm 30 m x 30 m Snow/cloud differentiation
6 10,4 - 12,5 µm 120 x 120 m Thermal
7 2,08 - 2,35 µm 30 m x 30 m Lithology


The third LANDSAT series
The last generation of Landsat satellites started with a failure, for Landsat 6 was lost just after its launch on 3 October 1993. Landsat 7 was launched in 1999 and is equipped with a mutispectral sensor known as the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus or ETM+.

altitude: 705 km
inclination: 98.2 degrees
orbit: sun-synchronous polar
orbit period: 98.9 minutes
revisit time: 16 days

satellites : LANDSAT 6 (03/10/1993 – 03/10/1993)
  LANDSAT 7 (15/04/1999 – still operational)

ETM+ sensor
As its name indicates, this scanner is an enhanced version of the previous TMs. It now has a high-resolution panchromatic wide band.

Band
Spectral band
Resolution
Use
1 0,45 - 0,515 µm 30 m x 30 m
Ground/plant differentiation,
coastal zones
2 0,525 - 0,605 30 m x 30 m Vegetation
3 0,63 - 0,69 µm 30 m x 30 m Differentiate plant species
4 0,75 - 0,90 µm 30 m x 30 m Biomass
5 1,55 - 1,75 µm 30 m x 30 m Snow/cloud differentiation
6 10,4 - 12,5 µm 60 m x 60 m Thermal
7 2,09 - 2,35 µm 30 m x 30 m Lithology
PAN 0,50 - 0,90 µm 15 m x 15 m  

Landsat Data Continuity Mission
The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) is the next-generation Landsat satellite and is expected to be launched late 2012. This mission will ensure the continued acquisition and availability of Landsat-like data well beyond the duration of the current Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 missions.

Mission website

See also: The Landsat Programme


Data distributors

U.S. Geological Survey


RBV
Lillie Glacier and Pennell Coast - Antarctica Courtesy of USGS

 


MSS
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Courtesy of USGS

 

 

 

 


ETM+
Fires December 1999, Dili, East Timor
Image processed by ACRES;
distributed by and courtesy of Eurimage

 


ETM +/ PAN
Manhattan, New York
Courtesy of USGS and NASA

TM
Irrawaddy Delta,
Myanmar
© EOSAT 1995, Eurimage 1995