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

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Image shows a satellite view of wildfire damage in Argentina
A number of artifacts and anomalies can happen to any remote sensing data. Banding, dropped scan lines, and detector failures are only a few of the anomalies that can be seen in Landsat data. Details about a number of anomalies that have been discovered and investigated can be found on theLandsat Known Issues page.
Light and dark stripes on a satellite image of a lake
Memory Effect (ME) is an artifact that can be observed as alternating lighter and darker scans. At various times, ME has been known as "banding" or "bright target recovery". ME is typically seen in imagery from bands 1-4, over large areas following a significant transition in radiant intensity such as at a cloud/desert or snow/water boundary....
Lidar mapping showing vegetation density in Barataria Preserve
Landsat metadata are stored in a text (MTL.txt) file and delivered with the Data Product download file. An example of the MTL file can be found on the Level-1 Landsat Data Products Metadata web page.
Image shows a satellite view of wildfire damage in Argentina
A custom color stretch is performed on the images, based on individual scene content. Scenes from within the same area and/or acquisition date may vary in band content (due to differences such as cloud content or ground moisture). This differing content will cause variation in the results of the color stretch.    
Landsat Imagery
Landsat 1-5 Multispectral Scanner (MSS) images consist of four spectral bands with 60 meter spatial resolution. Approximate scene size is 170 km north-south by 185 km east-west (106 mi by 115 mi). Specific band designations differ from Landsat 1-3 to Landsat 4-5. Band designations for the Landsat 1-Landsat 5 Multipectral Scanner (MSS).  *Original...
Chesapeake Bay 2014 Landsat imagery
Landsat scenes directly downlinked to the EROS Landsat Ground Station become available through EarthExplorer or GloVis within 24 hours after acquisition. Scenes downlinked to other USGS Ground Stations can be available within 1 to 2 weeks. Scenes downlinked to International Ground Stations may become available in the USGS archive, but the station...
Kaskawulsh Glacier, Yukon Territory, Canada, Landsat 8, taken July 4, 2016
There are no restrictions on Landsat data downloaded from USGS EROS;  it can be used or redistributed as desired. We do request that you include a statement of the data source when citing, copying, or reprinting USGS Landsat data or images. Details are on the EROS Data Citation page.
Image shows a satellite view of a white glacier extending from a large ice cap into a surrounding green landscape
Landsat satellites have the optimal ground resolution and spectral bands to efficiently track land use and to document land change due to climate change, urbanization, drought, wildfire, biomass changes (carbon assessments), and a host of other natural and human-caused changes. The Landsat Program’s continuous archive reaches back to 1972 and...
Landsat Imagery
The Landsat Program is a series of Earth-observing satellite missions jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. On July 23, 1972, in cooperation with NASA, the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS-1) was launched. It was later renamed Landsat 1. Additional Landsat satellites followed in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Landsat 7 was...
Artist’s rendition of Landsat 8 in orbit. NASA graphic.
Because Landsat 8 data includes additional bands, the combinations used to create RGB composites differ from Landsat 7 and Landsat 5. For instance, bands 4, 3, 2 are used to create a color infrared (CIR) image using Landsat 7 or Landsat 5. To create a CIR composite using Landsat 8 data, bands 5, 4, 3 are used. The graph at the bottom of the page...
Photograph of Landsat
Both Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 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 full orbits...
1905 Topomap scan of Des Moines
Contour Shapefiles have elevation data stored in the "CONTOURELE" attribute field. To preserve elevations, map the attribute to the elevation of the surface in Civil 3D through an "Alter Properties" query. For more guidance, follow instructions provided in Web pages, such as: http://forums.autodesk.com/t5/autocad-civil-3d-general/contour-elevation...