Why do Landsat 7 Level-1 products contain two thermal bands?

Landsat 7 acquires thermal data in two bands from one detector in  both high (Band 6H) and low (Band 6L) gain. The difference in gain settings is important to different types of studies (i.e., clouds vs. deserts). Aside from the resolution differences and saturation on the high and low ends, the two bands provide the same Digital Numbers (DN) for every pixel.

FILE_NAME_BAND_6_VCID_1 (band 61 or 6L) provides an expanded dynamic range and lower radiometric resolution (sensitivity), with less saturation at high Digital Number (DN) values.

FILE_NAME_BAND_6_VCID_2 (band 62 or 6H) has higher radiometric resolution (sensitivity), although it has a more restricted dynamic range, and is more likely to saturate over hot targets.

Learn more:

Related Content

Filter Total Items: 9

What are the _VER.jpg and _VER.txt files that are included with the Landsat MSS and TM data?

The Verify Image (_VER.jpg) and Geometric Verify Report (_VER.txt) files are included with Landsat MSS and TM Collection 1 Level-1 scenes that have processed into Tier 1. The Verify Image File displays a colored grid of verification points to represent the accuracy of geometric correction, using cross-correlation techniques to compare the product...

How is the percentage of cloud cover calculated in a Landsat scene?

The C Function of Mask (CFMask) algorithm is used in Landsat Collection 1 Level-1 data processing. This algorithm provides a full-image “Scene Cloud Cover” estimation of the percentage of cloud cover calculated over an entire Landsat scene. Land Cloud Cover, which is also included, is determined by calculating the percentage of clouds over land-...

What are Landsat 7 SLC-off Gap Mask files?

Band-specific gap mask files are included with every Landsat 7 Scan Line Corrector (SLC)-off Level-1 data product. These ancillary data identify the location of all pixels affected by the original data gaps in the primary SLC-off scene. The gap mask is provided as a series of individual band files, in compressed (GZIP) GeoTIFF format. [scald=76195...

What are Landsat Bias Parameter Files?

Landsat Bias Parameter Files (BPFs) supply radiometric correction parameters that are applied during Level-1 processing of Landsat data. Learn more (and search for BPF files): Landsat Bias Parameter

What are Landsat Calibration Parameter Files?

Landsat Calibration Parameter Files (CPFs) provide radiometric and geometric coefficients needed for processing of raw, uncorrected Landsat image data into Level-1 data products. Over 15,000 coefficients are issued to span distinct timeframes and are updated with improved calibration coefficients. CPFs are often updated with improved coefficients...

Does the Landsat 7 Scan Line Corrector (SLC)-off artifact affect Landsat Collections tier designation?

The Landsat 7 SLC-off artifact does not change how the data are placed into Landsat Collection tiers, as tier classifications are determined by the radiometric and geometric accuracy of each scene. Learn more: Landsat Collections Landsat Data Access

How do I search for and download ascending (nighttime) Landsat scenes?

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...

What is Landsat 7 ETM+ SLC-off data?

Landsat 7 ETM+ SLC-off data refers to all Landsat 7 images collected after May 31, 2003, when the Scan Line Corrector (SLC) failed. These products have data gaps, but are still useful and maintain the same radiometric and geometric corrections as data collected prior to the SLC failure. See the Landsat 7 website for information about the SLC-off...

What are the best Landsat spectral bands for use in my research?

The Spectral Characteristics Viewer is an interactive tool that can be used to visualize how the bands--or channels--of different satellite sensors measure the intensity of the many wavelengths (colors) of light. This is also known as the relative spectral response (RSR). By overlaying the spectral curves from different features (spectra), one can...
Filter Total Items: 3
Date published: December 15, 2004

USGS Offers New Landsat 7 Gap-Filled Product

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has completed development of a major new product enhancement for Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) data captured after the Scan Line Corrector (SLC) anomaly in May of 2003. 

Date published: September 9, 2003

Landsat 7 Continues To Provide Earth Science Data

Landsat 7, one of the Nation’s two earth remote sensing satellites, continues to provide useful images and data of the earth’s surface despite a problem encountered with one part of the satellite. Attempts to fix the problem from earth have not been successful.

Date published: February 26, 2003

USGS Satellite Images of Earth Debut as Art Prints


Astonishing patterns, vivid abstractions, and fantastic shapes characterize "Earth as Art," a joint USGS and NASA collection of satellite imagery that displays 41 images of Earth taken by the Landsat 7 satellite from over 400 miles high.

Filter Total Items: 12
June 30, 2018

Daily Operations of Landsat 7

What it takes each day to keep Landsat 7 operating smoothly. Hear the stories from inside the L7 Mission Operation Center.

Landsat 7 100,000th orbit image
February 1, 2018

Landsat 7 100,000th orbit image

Landsat 7, February 1, 2018, acquired on Landsat 7's 100,000th orbit

Image: Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico - Landsat 7
May 1, 2010

Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico - Landsat 7

On April 20, 2010, an explosion at an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in a major oil spill. Since then, emergency response efforts have been underway to contain the growing oil slick before it reaches the southern coast of the United States.
Landsat imagery, acquired by the U.S. Geological Survey on May 1 shows the extent of the oil slick. The Landsat data

March 13, 2008

What is Landsat 7?

Listen to hear the answer.

Earth As Art image Richat Structure
January 1, 2001

Richat Structure

The so-called Richat Structure is a geological formation in the Maur Adrar Desert in the African country of Mauritania. Although it resembles an impact crater, the Richat Structure formed when a volcanic dome hardened and gradually eroded, exposing the onion-like layers of rock.

  • Collection: Earth as Art
  • Source: Landsat 7
  • Scale: 1.7 miles (2.
Landsat 7 image form 2000 showing center pivot irrigation, as green circles, in the desert of Saudi Arabia.
December 31, 2000

Center-pivot irrigation in Saudi Arabia captured by Landsat 7, 2000

Landsat 7 captured this image of center-pivot irrigation (green circles) in the Saudi Arabian desert in 2000. Images taken of the same location over several decades show the explosive increase of irrigated land over time, as hidden reserves of water have been tapped beneath desert sands to grow grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Earth As Art image Namib Desert
August 1, 2000

Namib Desert

Namib-Naukluft National Park is an ecological preserve in Namibia's vast Namib Desert. Coastal winds create the tallest sand dunes in the world here, with some dunes reaching 980 feet (300 meters) in height.

  • Collection: Earth as Art
  • Source: Landsat 7
  • Scale: 1.8 miles (2.9km)
  • Download: 
Craters of the Moon Lava Field, Idaho, Landsat 7 natural-color imag...
August 1, 2000

Craters of the Moon Lava Field, Idaho, Landsat 7 natural-color imag...

Craters of the Moon Lava Field, Idaho, Landsat 7 natural-color image. Lava flows black and dark brown, agricultural town of Carey and Pioneer Mountains to west.

Earth As art image Lena Delta
July 1, 2000

Lena Delta

The Lena River, some 2,800 miles(4,500km) long, is one of the largest rivers in the world. The Lena Delta Reserve is the most extensive protected wilderness area in Russia. It is an important refuge and breeding grounds for many species of Siberian wildlife.

  • Collection: Earth as Art
  • Source: Landsat 7
  • Scale: 4.8 miles (7.7km)
  • Download
Example of striping in Landsat 7 ETM+ Band 6 high gain data, processed before Nov. 23, 1999.

Example of striping in Landsat 7 ETM+ Band 6 high gain data

Example of striping in Landsat 7 ETM+ Band 6 high gain data, processed before Nov. 23, 1999.

See https://www.usgs.gov/land-resources/nli/landsat/detector-striping for more information. 

Rocket taking Landsat 7 to space

Rocket taking Landsat 7 to space

Landsat 7 heading to space after launch April 15, 1999.