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Instrument profile: Landsat

Landsat is a series of satellites that have been in operation since 1972. Landsat 1, 2, and 3 were of similar optical design. These three satellites were equipped with a Multi-Spectral Scanner (MSS).

Landsat 4, 5 introduced the Thematic Mapper (TM) in addition to the MSS.

Landsat 7 is the most recently launched satellite, and includes the Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+). The satellites have been instrumental in mapping the surface of the Earth for countless remote sensing applications.

Platform Launch date Deactivation date Remote sensing payloadsa
Landsat-1b 23 July 1972 2 January 1978 MSS, RBVc
Landsat-2b 22 January 1975 25 February 1982 MSS, RBVc
Landsat-3b 5 March 1978 31 March 1983 MSS, RBVc
Landsat-4 16 July 1982 August 1993d MSS, TM
Landsat-5 1 March 1984 Still operational MSS, TM
Landsat-6 5 October 1993 Failed on launch ETM
Landsat-7 15 April 1999 Still operational ETM+
aDetails of the relevant are given in the next table on this page.
bAlso called Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS) series.
cThe Return Beam Vidicom (RBV) was in effect a television camera and was not very useful.
dFinally decommissioned in June 2001.


Usefulness to land managers
Because of the large pixel size (30 m on a side), Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 data are likely to be useful only to those working on ecoregional/state/national/global scales. Data from earlier Landsat missions have lower resolution and are even less suitable to regional managers.

Costs and Contacts
http://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/index.html--technical information.
http://landsat7.usgs.gov/index.php--ordering data.
MSS data cost approximately $200-300 per scene (185 × 170 kilometers), depending upon volume and level of image processing required; additional scene discounts available. TM data cost $425 per scene (170 × 183 kilometers); additional scene discounts available. ETM+ scenes vary widely in cost, depending upon options selected and number of images requested; a single scene (170 × 183 kilometers) can cost between $200-$600.

Sample images (L7 imagery)

Mt. St. Helens,
28-Sept-2004.

Manhattan, Long
Island, NJ.

Namibia, Kuiseb R.;
Bands 3-2-1

Hawai'i, Mau'i,
Kahoolawe.

San Francisco Bay,
Bands 3-2-1.


Useful Web Sites
See above.

Technical Specs


Multispectral Scanner (MSS):
Device Characteristics
Band number Spectral coverage Resolution Scene size
Landsats 1-3 Landsats 4-5
  4 (green) 1 (green) 500-600 nm 79 ma 185 × 170 km
5 (red) 2 (red) 600-700 nm
6 (near-IR) 3 (near-IR) 700-800 nm
7 (near-IR) 4 (near-IR) 800-1100 nm
aPixel size for these images is 57 ×57 m.

Thematic Mapper (TM):
Device Characteristics
Band number
Landsats 4-5
Spectral coverage Resolution Scene size
  1 (blue-green) 450-520 nm 30 m 170 × 183 km
2 (green) 520-600 nm
3 (red) 630-690 nm
4 (reflected-IR) 760-900 nm
5 (reflected-IR) 1550-1750 nm
6 (thermal-IR) 10400-12500 nm 120 mb
7 (reflected-IR) 2080-2350 nm 30 m
bThe image resolution for band 6 is 120 m, but the data product is resampled to be displayed with 30 meter pixels.

Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+):
Device Characteristics
Band number
Landsat 7
Spectral coverage Resolution Scene size
  1 (visible) 450-520 nm 30 m 170 × 183 km
2 (visible) 530-610 nm
3 (visible) 630-690 nm
4 (near-IR) 780-900 nm
5 (near-IR) 1550-1750 nm
6 (thermal-IR) 10400-12500 nm 60 m
7 (mid-IR) 2090-2350 nm 30 m
8 (panchromatic) 520-900 nm 15 m


References
http://www.earth.nasa.gov/history/landsat/landsat.html (and subpages)--accessed 24 Sept. 2004
http://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/index.html (and subpages)--accessed 24 Sept. 2004
http://landsat.usgs.gov/index.php (and subpages)--accessed 24 Sept. 2004
http://landsat.usgs.gov/documents/fs02303.pdf--accessed 24 Sept. 2004


 


Updated January 2005
©The Nature Conservancy, 2005