Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Landsat 8

Landsat 8 (formally the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, LDCM) was launched on an Atlas-V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on February 11, 2013.

Landsat 8 is the most recently launched Landsat satellite and carries the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) instruments.

Artist rendering Landsat 8
Illustration of Landsat 8 in orbit

Landsat 8 orbits the the Earth in a sun-synchronous, near-polar orbit, at an altitude of 705 km (438 mi), inclined at 98.2 degrees, and completes one Earth orbit every 99 minutes.  The satellite has a 16-day repeat cycle with an equatorial crossing time: 10:00 a.m. +/- 15 minutes.  

Landsat 8 acquires about 740 scenes a day on the Worldwide Reference System-2 (WRS-2) path/row system, with a swath overlap (or sidelap) varying from 7 percent at the equator to a maximum of approximately 85 percent at extreme latitudes. A Landsat 8 scene size is 185 km x 180 km (114 mi x 112 mi). 

Visit Landsat Data Access for information on accessing products created from data acquired by the sensors onboard the Landsat satellites.



Landsat 8 Instruments

Operational Land Imager (OLI)  -  Built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation

  • Nine spectral bands, including a pan band:
    • Band 1 Visible (0.43 - 0.45 µm) 30 m
    • Band 2 Visible (0.450 - 0.51 µm) 30 m
    • Band 3 Visible (0.53 - 0.59 µm) 30 m
    • Band 4 Red (0.64 - 0.67 µm) 30 m
    • Band 5 Near-Infrared (0.85 - 0.88 µm) 30 m
    • Band 6 SWIR 1(1.57 - 1.65 µm) 30 m
    • Band 7 SWIR 2 (2.11 - 2.29 µm) 30 m
    • Band 8 Panchromatic (PAN) (0.50 - 0.68 µm) 15 m
    • Band 9 Cirrus (1.36 - 1.38 µm) 30 m

OLI captures data with improved radiometic precision over a 12-bit dynamic range, which improves overall signal to noise ratio. This translates into 4096 potential grey levels, compared with only 256 grey levels in Landsat 1-7 8-bit instruments. Improved signal to noise performance enables improved characterization of land cover state and condition.

The 12-bit data are scaled to 16-bit integers and delivered in the Level-1 data products. Products are scaled to 55,000 grey levels, and can be rescaled to the Top of Atmosphere (TOA) reflectance and/or radiance using radiometric rescaling coefficients provided in the product metadata file (MTL file).

Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS)  -  Built by NASA Goddard  Space Flight Center 

  • Two spectral bands:
    • Band 10 TIRS 1 (10.6 - 11.19 µm) 100 m
    • Band 11 TIRS 2 (11.5 - 12.51 µm) 100 m

Landsat 8 Spacecraft Facts

  • Built by Orbital Science Corporation
  • 3.14 terabit solid-state data recorder
  • Power provided by a single 9 x 0.4 meter solar array and one 125 Ampere-Hour (AHr), Nickel-Hydrogen (NiH2) battery
  • Weight: 2,071 kg (4,566 lbs) fully loaded with fuel (without instruments)
  • Length: 3 m (9.8 ft)
  • Diameter: 2.4 m (7.9 ft)
  • Direct Downlink with Solid State Recorders (SSR)
  • Data rate: 384 Mbps on X-band frequency; 260.92 Mbps on S-band frequency

Landsat 8 Data Products

Landsat 8 data products are consistent with all Landsat standard Level-1 data products, using the specifications described on the Landsat Processing Details page.

Landsat 8 Pre-WRS-2 Data Products

Nearly 10,000 scenes were acquired by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and/or Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) sensors after launch (February 11, 2013) through April 10, 2013, when the satellite achieved operational orbit (WRS-2). The earliest images are TIRS data only. These data are also visible and can be downloaded from EarthExplorer or GloVis.

While these data meet the quality standards and have the same geometric precision as data acquired on and after April 11, 2013, the geographic extents of each scene may differ. Most data will be processed to the highest level possible, however there may be some differences in the spatial resolution of the early TIRS images due to telescope temperature changes, but they should be within +/- 1 percent.

Landsat 8 Data Users Handbook


Related Content