Landsat Missions

Landsat 1-5 Multispectral Scanner (MSS) Calibration Notices

Return to Calibration Overview


May, 2018 - L1-5 MSS Absolute Radiometric Calibration Update

With the calibration update implemented for Collection -1, the agreement between MSS sensors is 3.6%, 2.9%, 3.5%, and 5.9% for the green, red, near-infrared response (NIR-1), and NIR-2 spectral bands, respectively. This update ties all the Landsat legacy instruments from Landsat-1 MSS through Landsat-8 OLI to a consistent radiometric scale. Read more at


April 1, 2011 - L1-5 MSS Absolute Radiometric Calibration Update

As of April 1, 2011, an updated absolute radiometric calibration was applied to all Multispectral Scanner (MSS) products generated by the USGS. The newly processed image data appear darker by 17.6% in band 1, 8.6% in band 2, 5.2% in band 3 and 4.5% in band 4. Consequently, the sensor dynamic ranges (LMIN/LMAX values) are proportionally reduced.

Previously, the MSS products were processed using radiometric calibration that was consistent among the five sensors, but not linked to an absolute scale. The absolute calibration was estimated by comparing scene data acquired simultaneously by both MSS and Thematic Mapper (TM) sensors onboard Landsat 5 while accounting for differences in spectral bandpasses of the two sensors. This update puts the MSS products on the same absolute radiometric scale with the TM and Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) products.

Users need to be aware that although the MSS data now mirror the TM radiometric scale, the image-derived spectral radiances (W/m2 sr um) are not equivalent due to significant differences in the spectral bandpasses between TM and MSS instruments.