USGS EROS Archive - Sentinel-2 - Comparison of Sentinel-2 and Landsat

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Comparison of Sentinel-2 and Landsat

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Radiometric Characteristics: The Sentinel-2A data has spectral bands very similar to Landsat 8 (excluding the thermal bands of Landsat 8’s Thermal Infrared Sensor). The specific placement of the Sentinel-2A bands, as compared to Landsat 7 and 8 bands, can be seen in the graphic below.


The main visible and near-infrared Sentinel-2A bands have a spatial resolution of 10 meters, while its “red-edge” (red and near-infrared bands) and two shortwave infrared bands have a 20-meter spatial resolution. The coastal/aerosol, water vapor, and cirrus bands have a spatial resolution of 60 meters.

During the development of Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2A, calibration scientists from both projects worked together to cross-calibrate the sensors. Many scientists and researchers are looking forward to collectively using data from Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2A.

The USGS Spectral Characteristics Viewer helps users determine which spectral bands work best to identify their features of interest for image interpretation. This tool also facilitates the visualization of the Relative Spectral Response (RSR) of other satellite sensors such as Landsat.

Geometric Characteristics: Sentinel-2A Level-1C products have similar geometric accuracy as Landsat 8. The design requirements for the MSI are:

  • Absolute geolocation uncertainty: 20 m 2σ without Ground Control Points (GCPs) and 12.5 m 2σ with GCPs.
  • Multi-temporal registration: 0.3 pixel 2σ including compensation for the effects of terrain height variation.
  • Multi-spectral registration (for any two spectral bands): 3 pixels 3σ.