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Landsat Collection 2 Level-1 Data

Several data processing, geometric, and radiometric improvements, along with a new data distribution process, define Collection 2 Level-1 data. This page provides details about Landsat 1-9 Collection 2 Level-1 data.

Return to Collection 2 Overview

Go to Collection 2 Level-2 Product Information


Level-1 Data

Landsat Level-1 data products consist of calibrated scaled Digital Numbers (DN) representing the multispectral image data. Level-1 data are categorized into a tier-based structure. The highest tiered Level-1 data are radiometrically calibrated and geometrically corrected using ground control points (GCPs) and digital elevation model (DEM) data to correct for relief displacement.

All Landsat Level-1 data products are created using the best available processing level for each scene. The processing level used is determined by the existence of ground control points, elevation data provided by various digital elevation models, and/or payload correction data collected by the spacecraft and sensor. Visit the Landsat Levels of Processing webpage to learn more about Level-1 processing data quality. 


Collection 2 Tiers

Landsat Collection Tiers are the inventory structure for Level-1 data products and are based on data quality and level of processing. The tier definition purpose is to support easier identification of suitable scenes for time-series pixel-level analysis, and provide temporary data that are processed immediately upon downlink to be dispensed quickly in emergency response situations with limited calibration.

Newly acquired Landsat 9 OLI/TIRS data are processed into Tier 1 or Tier 2, and become available for download 4-6 hours after Level-1 product generation. 

Newly acquired Landsat 8 OLI/TIRS data are processed using initial TIRS line-of-sight model parameters, are placed in the Real-Time (RT) tier, and made available for download 4-6 hours after Level-1 product generation. Landsat 8 TIRS data may not meet specifications for co-registration with OLI. Landsat 8 TIRS line-of-sight model parameters are refined based on data acquired during biweekly calibration maneuvers and scenes are reprocessed within 14 to 16 days of acquisition and moved into Tier 1 or Tier 2.

Tier 1 (T1): Landsat scenes with the highest available data quality are placed into Tier 1 and are considered suitable for time-series analysis. Tier 1 includes Level-1 Precision and Terrain (L1TP) corrected data that have well-characterized radiometry and are inter-calibrated across the different Landsat instruments. The georegistration of Tier 1 scenes is consistent and within prescribed image-to-image tolerances of ≦ 12-meter radial root mean square error (RMSE).

Tier 2 (T2): Landsat scenes not meeting Tier 1 criteria during processing are assigned to Tier 2. Tier 2 scenes adhere to the same radiometric standard as Tier 1 scenes, but do not meet the Tier 1 geometry specification due to less accurate orbital information (specific to older Landsat sensors), significant cloud cover, insufficient ground control, or other factors.  This includes Systematic Terrain (L1GT) and Systematic (L1GS) processed data. Users interested in Tier 2 scenes can query the RMSE and other properties to determine their application suitability.

The Tier designation (T1, T2, RT) is visible at the end of the Landsat Product Identifier, as shown in the examples below. It is also provided as an additional metadata field in EarthExplorer. Note: Historical Landsat 4-5 TM and Landsat 7 ETM+ data received from International Ground Stations supporting the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation effort are placed in either Tier 1 or Tier 2 after Collection 1 processing.

Real-Time: LC08_L1TP_013002_20200629_20200629_01_RT
Tier 1: LC08_L1TP_013042_20211225_20211230_02_T1
Tier 2: LT05_L1GS_178058_19950410_20200912_02_T2


Level-1 Data Processing Improvements

Several data processing, geometric, and radiometric improvements, along with a new data distribution process, define Collection 2 Level-1 data. This page provides details about the changes users can find in Landsat Collection 2 Level-1 data. Visit the instrument-specific Data Format Control Books listed at below on this page for a more comprehensive overview of these data characteristics. 

  • Remove Extreme Latitude DEM Constraint
    Landsat Collection 1 Level-1 scenes with a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) value beyond the geographical extent (-57.0 degrees latitude) of the elevation source only process to a Level-1 Systematic Terrain (L1GT) product. Removing this constraint allows for more extreme latitude acquisitions to process to a Level-1 Terrain Precision (L1TP) product. For example, this is most pronounced at the southern tip of South America (path 227/row 99).
  • Landsat 7 ETM+ and Landsat 4-5 TM Precision Correction Logic
    Improvements were made to the Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) and Landsat 4-5 Thematic Mapper (TM) precision correction algorithm that includes a “decision-tree” like process to identify a good collection of correlated Ground Control Points (GCPs), and to constrain the model fit parameters depending on these GCPs within the scene content.  The number of Landsat 7 ETM+ and Landsat 4-5 TM Level-1 scenes achieving the Collection Tier 1 inventory criteria increases due to these improvements.
  • Landsat 8 Instrument Alignment
    In December 2014, Landsat 8 experienced a Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) Scene Select Mirror (SSM) anomaly. After the change in operations due to this anomaly, a minor seasonal dependency in sensor alignment between the TIRS and Operational Land Imager (OLI) sensor was observed which is accounted for in Collection 2 processing.
  • Landsat 7 ETM+ Thermal Band Detector Alignment
    Landsat 7 ETM+ Thermal Band 6 includes a minor odd-to-even detector misalignment due to pre-launch detector-based focal plane values. After extensive historical on-orbit characterization and calibration efforts of the thermal band detector placement, revised focal plane values have been determined. The revised focal plane values provide improved detector-to-detector alignment of Band 6. This page provides more details about this improvement. 
  • Remove GCPs Constraint in Level-1 Processing
    In Collection 1, a constraint of 250 GCPs is used in Landsat 4-5 TM and Landsat 7 ETM+ Level-1 processing. This GCP constraint reduces the number of acquisitions that could process to a Level-1 Terrain Precision (L1TP) product. Together with the European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-2 Global Reference Image (GRI) harmonization, removing this constraint allows more Landsat 4-7 scenes to process to a L1TP product.
  • Increase DEM Scene Framing Extent
    Present in some Collection 1 scenes was a duplicated ‘wedge’ of data in the extreme southwest corner of the scene. This primarily occurred in Band 1 as a result of insufficient scene coverage by a DEM tile. An increase in the DEM framing extent ensures scenes prone to this issue are captured by all elevation tiles, and the scene is precisely terrain corrected.
  • Landsat 7 ETM+ Instrument to Attitude Control System Alignment Update
    The Landsat 7 ETM+ instrument to Attitude Control System (ACS) alignment was updated between January 2013 - December 2018 and impacted Level-1 Systematic Terrain (L1GT) acquisitions only. The implementation of this update results in an increase accuracy of all Landsat 7 ETM+ L1GT acquisitions. Visit this page for more information. 
  • Day Transition Error Fix
    Previously, some Landsat 7 ETM+ and Landsat 4-5 TM Level-1 acquisitions captured during a day transition (primarily over Australia) failed to produce a Level-1 product or produced a misregistered Terrain Precision (L1TP) or Systematic Terrain (L1GT) product. The acquisitions affected by this error can now process successfully to a L1GT or L1TP product. Visit this page for more details and to see an example of the day transition error and fix in Collection 2.
  • Landsat 7 ETM+ and Landsat 4-5 TM Shutter Intrusion Indicated in New Sensor Anomaly Metadata Field
    Due to improved Internal Calibrator shutter intrusion detection for Landsat 7 ETM+ and Landsat 4-5 TM, a new metadata field (<SENSOR_ANOMALIES = “SHUTTER_INTRUSION”>) is included in the metadata file if intrusion is detected. Visit this page to see examples of shutter intrusion in Landsat imagery. 
  • Adjust Landsat 7 ETM+ Focal Plane for Improved Band Alignment
    The Landsat 7 ETM+ cold-to-warm focal plane alignment is adjusted to account for small misalignments that occurred during changes in operations, such as the Scan Line Corrector failure in 2003. This update produces improved co-alignment between the cold and warm focal planes of the Landsat 7 ETM+ instrument. Visit this page for additional information about focal plane calibration adjustments.


Geometric Accuracy Improvements

The Global Land Survey (GLS) database is the primary source for the GCPs library used to georeference Landsat Level-1 data. The most recent GLS 2000 data set is a collection of images acquired by Landsat 7 ETM+.

The absolute geolocation onboard Landsat 8, which was launched in 2013, is more precise than that of the GLS 2000 data set due to Landsat 8's onboard Global Positioning System. GLS 2000 updates have been implemented in phases since 2014 to improve the accuracy of the Landsat GCP library, with the most recent update occurring in May 2016 (Phase 3).  

Visit the Landsat Ground Control Points page for more information on GCPs, and to review details about each GCP Improvement phase.

Ground Control Points Phase 4
Landsat Ground Control Points (GCPs) Phase 4 involves re-baselining the Landsat 8 OLI GCPs to the European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-2 GRI for Collection 2 data. This involved updating over 5.1 million GCPs and included the extraction of 2.5 million new Landsat 8 GCPs globally.

This update improves the per-pixel geodetic accuracy and interoperability of the global Landsat archive spatially, temporally, and with Sentinel-2.

The extent of the four geographic regions used in the Phase 4 Landsat ground control point improvement for Collection 2
Map 1. Geographic regions of Phase 4 GCP improvements. (Click to enlarge)

Map 1 displays the extent of the five geographic regions used in Phase 4 GCP improvement.  More information about Phase 4 GCP, including additional graphics showing the estimated net offsets between Landsat Collection 1 and Collection 2 Ground Control Points for each Landsat path/row, and summary statistics of the global GCP re-adjustment effort to harmonize Landsat 8 OLI-based GCPs with Sentinel-2 Global Reference Image can be found in the January 2020: Phase 4 - Collection 2 section of the Landsat Geometry Ground Control Points page. 

The article titled “Bundle Adjustment Using Space-Based Triangulation Method for Improving the Landsat Global Ground Reference” provides a description of the triangulation based method used in this Phase 4 GCP update.



Radiometric Accuracy Improvements

  • Landsat 8 TIRS Absolute Radiometric Calibration Update
    Landsat 8 TIRS absolute radiometric calibration has been updated to correct for errors detected by the vicarious calibration teams. The calibration parameters were adjusted to reduce radiometric calibration errors in Collection 1 products after the TIRS stray light correction implementation in early 2017.The calibration update is a linear gain and bias adjustment, though the magnitude of the correction varies over time and by signal level. All Collection 2 data are corrected for this error. The Landsat 8 OLI and TIRS Calibration Notices page provides details about each calibration update applied to improve the Landsat 8 data.
  • Landsat 8 TIRS Relative Gains
    The detector-to-detector radiometric calibration of both Landsat 8 TIRS bands was updated to correct for striping observed in Landsat Collection 1 image data. Analysis of on-board calibrator data established that radiometric striping has progressively deteriorated over the lifetime of the mission.  The images shown to the right compare the striping that is evident in TIRS Band 10 with Collection 1, with noticeable reduction in the Collection 2 image. (Data acquired December 26, 2019.)
Landsat Collection 1 vs Collection 2 TIRS Striping Comparison
Sample of a TIRS Band 10 image with radiometric striping when processed into Collection 1 (left), and the reduction of striping in Collection 2 (right). (Click to enlarge)

Both images are scaled to the same radiometric range. The reduction in the level of radiometric striping is clear across the relatively uniform water body.

Blackbody data were used to help determine new detector-to-detector relative gain parameters for every calendar quarter.  Blackbody data continue to be used to update relative gains as new stripes are detected.

Plots were created to present a comparison between Collection 1 and Collection 2 striping factors derived from Band 10 and Band 11 for path 186 row 36 over the instrument’s lifetime (view the plots here).

The radiometric striping factor is a quantitative metric for the amount of striping present in an image that is obtained through calculation of spatial-domain statistics. Larger values for this metric tend to positively correlate with more visually apparent striping. The plots clearly suggest significant improvement in radiometric striping characteristics of thermal bands in Collection 2.

  • Landsat 8 OLI Absolute Gain Model Change
    The radiometric calibration model for the Landsat 8 OLI is based on an average response of the on-board calibrators (three lamp pairs, two solar diffuser panels and lunar acquisitions). The data from the working lamp pair, used daily, and from the working solar diffuser panel, used weekly, show trends that disagree with the other calibrators, indicating that their characteristics are changing independently of the instrument. The calibration model was updated to no longer include the working solar diffuser and the working lamp pair.

    Only the Coastal Aerosol (Band 1) and Blue (Band 2) are affected by this change. The radiometric calibration for these two bands is actively being updated with the on-orbit model; the radiometric calibration of the other OLI bands has remained stable since launch. This update influences all data in the Coastal Aerosol and Blue bands since launch (February 11, 2013) of up to 0.15 percent.
  • Landsat 8 OLI Relative Gain Update
    The Landsat 8 OLI relative gains are updated every quarter to account for variability in per-detector responsivity. The relative gains updates are derived from the solar diffuser collects acquired during the prior quarter.  For Collection 2, all relative gains estimated since the start of Collection 1 processing are updated with relative gains based on the data acquired during the applicable quarter itself. (Collection 1 products for data acquired before the start of Collection 1 processing have already been updated to make use of quarter-specific relative gains.)
    The differences between Collection 1 and Collection 2 images are generally be less than 0.2 percent; however, in the SWIR bands, there are be some individual detectors that change by up to 2.0 percent.  For the future quarters, the relative gains continue to be updated based on the estimates from solar diffuser data acquired during the prior quarter.


  • Landsat 8 OLI Bias Calculation Update
Landsat 8 OLI Collection 1 vs Collection 2 Improved Bias Estimate
These Landsat 8 OLI images of Path 165 Row 198 over the Pacific Ocean (Band 3, acquired October 10, 2019) compare the striping in Collection-1 (left) and the reduction in striping in the Collection 2 image due to the improved bias estimate (right). (Click to enlarge)

The method of calculating the Landsat 8 OLI bias, used for dark subtraction in the calibration process, was modified to make use of Video Reference Pixels (VRPs).  Rather than base the dark-subtraction solely on shutter data (acquired within +/-40 min of the image data), the new bias estimate considers VRP dark signal information acquired simultaneously with the image data.

The dark signal in the OLI drifts over time and the new bias estimate takes into consideration the short-term drift between shutter collects. The improved bias estimates reduce along-track noise, improve image uniformity and improve signal-to-noise ratio.

The effect of this update is primarily noticeable in low radiance scenes, as shown in Landsat 8 example to the right. The reduction in striping is a result of the improved bias estimate.


  • Landsat 5 TM Band 6 Calibration Update
    The Landsat 5 TM Band 6 radiometric calibration was updated to account for a residual bias error of -0.044 W/m2 sr um (-0.33K at 300K) for all data acquired on or after Jan 1, 1997. This error was detected after the previous calibration update (see the May 1, 2010 Calibration Notice) was applied. While the 2010 calibration update was signal dependent, this correction is constant for all signal levels. 


Landsat Collection 2 Known Issues

The Landsat Collection 2 Known Issues page provides information about artifacts found in Landsat Collection 2 data products, and attempts to make recommendations on how users can make corrections.  Known issues relating to Landsat spacecrafts and/or instruments can be found on this Landsat Known Issues page. Note: Some issues originating from spacecrafts and/or instruments do affect Landsat data and products; please review both pages when data issues are discovered. 


Landsat Collection 2 Reprocessing Events

Occasionally, select Landsat scenes must be reprocessed. Please visit the Collection 2 Reprocessing Events web page to learn more about what scenes have been reprocessed.


Data Access and Downloads

Landsat Collection 2 Level-1 data naming convention and band identifiers follow the same nomenclature as Landsat Collection 1. Level-1 data are delivered as Digital Numbers (DN) in an unsigned 16-bit integer format and can be converted to Top of Atmosphere (TOA) reflectance or radiance using the radiometric scaling factors provided in each scene metadata file.

The following files are included in Landsat Collection 2 Level-1 products:   

  • Spectral Bands in Cloud Optimized GeoTIFF (COG) format 
    • Bands 1-11 (Landsat 8-9 OLI/TIRS)
    • Bands 1-8 (Landsat 7 ETM+)
    • Bands 1-7 (Landsat 4-5 TM)
    • Bands 1-4 (Landsat 4-5 MSS)
    • Bands 4-7 (Landsat 1-3 MSS)
  • Angle Coefficient File 
  • Solar Illumination and Sensor Viewing Angle Coefficient Files  (More info)
    • Solar Azimuth Angle (SAA) 
    • Solar Zenith Angle (SZA)
    • Sensor Azimuth Angle (VAA)
    • Sensor Zenith Angle (VZA)
  • Quality Assessment (QA) Files (More info)
    • Pixel Quality Assessment Band (QA_Pixel)
    • Radiometric Saturation and Terrain Occlusion QA Band (QA_RADSAT)
  • Metadata Files
    • Material Library File (MTL) (Object Description Language-based) format
    • Extensible Markup Language (XML)
  • Landsat Collection 2 Full Resolution Browse Images (More info)
    • Reflective
    • Thermal
    • Quality 

Landsat Collection 2 Level-1 data are available to download from EarthExplorer. The USGS Landsat no-cost open data policy remains intact since its inception in 2008.

*New for Collection 2, users may select individual bands for download. EarthExplorer also maintains a bulk download option, which allows individual band selection, using the Bulk Download Application (BDA)

Visit this Landsat Data Access web page to discover how to search and download all Landsat products from USGS data portals.

The image below displays the Level-1 band download options that are available in EarthExplorer

EarthExplorer Landsat Collection 2 Level-1 Download Options


Users are encouraged to reference the COG Data Format Control Book (DFCB) for a detailed description of the data, product, and Spatiotemporal Asset Catalog (STAC) metadata files. Together with the instrument specific Level-1 DFCBs, the COG DFCB provides the user with a comprehensive overview of the new Landsat Collection 2 products.

Landsat Cloud Optimized GeoTIFF (COG) Data Format Control Book

Level-1 Documents

Citation Information

There are no restrictions on the use of Landsat Products. It is not a requirement of data use, but the following citation may be used in publication or presentation materials to acknowledge the USGS as a data source and to credit the original research: 

Landsat Collection 2 Level-1 Product courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.

The appropriate Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) may also be included in the citation: