Frequently Asked Questions

Mapping, Remote Sensing, and Geospatial Data

The USGS provides the mapping and digital geospatial foundation for the Nation.

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Lenticular clouds over hills in New Zealand.
Landsat Level-1 data can be rescaled to the top of atmosphere (TOA) reflectance and/or radiance using radiometric rescaling coefficients provided in the metadata file (MTL.txt) that is delivered with the Landsat Level-1 product. The MTL file also contains the thermal constants needed to convert thermal band data to TOA brightness temperature (BT...
Earth As Art image of Kazakhstan
The historical Landsat Level-1 Scene ID is in the EarthExplorer metadata. After entering a search using the historical Scene ID, the Landsat Level-1 Collection 1 Product Identifier will be returned in the search results. The results can be exported from EarthExplorer in a variety of formats for metadata parsing. We also encourage use of the Bulk...
Earth As Art image Terkezi Oasis
The USGS archive contains data acquired by the Landsat satellites from 1972 to present. Data is downlinked to various ground stations around the world. While each ground station in the International Cooperator (IC) network is the primary source for distributing the captured data in their area, copies of the data have also been made available to...
Landsat image of the south end of San Francisco Bay Estuary and associated wetlands
Landsat descending (daytime) acquisitions run from north to south; they cross the equator between 10:00 am and 10:25 am local time on each pass to provide maximum illumination. The exact acquisition start and stop times for each scene are listed in the metadata file that is included in the Landsat Level-1 product, and also displayed on...
Landsat 7 Path 38 Row 31, Acquired March 29, 2013
The Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 satellites orbit the Earth at an altitude of 705 kilometers (438 miles) in a 185-kilometer (115-mile) swath, moving from north to south over the sunlit side of the Earth in a sun synchronous orbit, following the World Reference System (WRS-2). Each satellite makes a complete orbit every 99 minutes, completes about 14...
Earth as Art - Landsat 8
Ascending (nighttime) WRS-2 Path/Row numbers are different from descending (daytime) Path/Rows. Cloud cover values for Landsat night scenes will always be zero. If you know the daytime path/row or coordinates and want to know the nighttime path/row, use the WRS-2 Path/Row to Latitude/Longitude Converter. Use EarthExplorer to search using path/row...
Satellite image showing a picture of northeastern Alaska.
The Landsat Collection 1 Level-1 product identifier includes the Collection processing levels, processing date, collection number, and collection iter category: LXSS_LLLL_PPPRRR_YYYYMMDD_yyyymmdd_CC_TX Where: L = Landsat X = Sensor (“C”=OLI/TIRS combined, “O”=OLI-only, “T”=TIRS-only, “E”=ETM+, “T”=“TM, “M”=MSS) SS = Satellite (”07”=Landsat 7, “08...
Landsat 7 ETM+ Surface Reflectance
Landsat Collection 1 Level-1 data are not corrected for atmospheric conditions, however Landsat Science Products, which include Level-2 Surface Reflectance and Provisional Surface Temperature, and Level-3 Burned Area, Dynamic Surface Water Extent, and Fractional Snow Covered Area are atmospherically corrected. Learn more: Landsat Collections...
Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) Level-1 Data
The table below shows the Landsat Collections Level-1 processing levels: Landsat Level-1 Processing Levels Processing Level Description Terrain Precision Correction (L1TP) Radiometrically calibrated and orthorectified using ground control points (GCPs) and digital elevation model (DEM) data to correct for relief displacement.The highest quality...
Example visualization of U.S. Landsat Analysis Ready Data tile-based structure and time-series stacking.
U.S. Landsat Analysis Ready Data (ARD) are pre-packaged and pre-processed bundles of Landsat data products that make the Landsat archive more accessible and easier to analyze, and reduce the amount of time users spend on data processing for time-series analysis. ARD contains Level-2 products derived from Landsat Collections Level-1 scenes. ARD are...
Landsat 9 logo
Landsat 9 will carry the same instruments that are on the Landsat 8 satellite but with some improvements: Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) for reflective band data. Thermal Infrared Sensor-2 (TIRS-2) for the thermal infrared bands. OLI-2 will have a slightly improved signal-to-noise ratio over Landsat 8's OLI. Landsat 9’s TIRS-2 is a Class...
Rendering of Landsat 9
Landsat 9—a partnership between the USGS and NASA—has a launch readiness date of mid-2021. Landsat 9 will be launched from Space Launch Complex 3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and will be delivered into orbit by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 launch vehicle. Learn more: Landsat 9 Mission Since 1972, Landsat satellites have...