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Landsat Level-1 Quality Assessment Tools

Landsat Level-1 Quality Assessment (QA) bands are a helpful resource for evaluating the overall usefulness of a Landsat pixel. Each pixel in the QA band contains a decimal value that represents bit-packed combinations of surface, atmospheric, and sensor conditions that can affect the individual pixel quality. 

Return to Landsat Quality Assessment Tools Overview


The Landsat Level-1 QA bands are 16-bit files in GeoTIFF format which require robust image processing software.

To simplify the "unpacking" of the QA band information, the USGS developed the Landsat QA Tools, which were derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Land Data Operational Product Evaluation (LDOPE) Toolbox.

The Landsat QA Tools originally supported Landsat data in Hierarchical Data Format (HDF), similar to MODIS data. However, the USGS has moved away from Landsat HDF data delivery and toward using GeoTIFF as the standard Landsat data product delivery format, and the Landsat QA Tools needed to be changed accordingly. 

Landsat Collection 1 Level-1 data include QA bands for Landsat 1-7, and an altered QA band for Landsat 8 OLI. The Landsat QA Tools were again updated to support Landsat Collection 1 Level-1 QA data.

Landsat 8 Collection 1 Quality Assessment Example
This is an example of a Quality Assessment (QA) Band image. 
















Download Landsat QA Tools (.zip - 3.7 MB)

Includes: Linux 64-bit and Windows 64-bit executables, a source code directory, a binary directory, and a readme file.

Refer to the Landsat QA Tools User Guide for more information.

No distribution or re-use constraints are associated with the Landsat QA Tools. Users and developers using or modifying these tools should provide credit to the original authors. Please acknowledge the use of these tools, including use of significant code fragments taken from the source code, for example, "Software tools provided by the MODIS land quality assessment group (Roy et al. 2002)".

Roy, D.P., Borak, J.S., Devadiga, S., Wolfe, R.E., Zheng, M., Descloitres, J., 2002, The MODIS Land Product Quality Assessment Approach, Remote Sensing of Environment, 83, 62-76.

Additionally, a user experience with these tools is described in Landsat Surface Reflectance Quality Assurance Extraction (Version 1.7)(J. Jones et al, 2013).