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Landsat 8 OLI (Operational Land Imager) and TIRS (Thermal Infrared Sensor)


NOTE:  Landsat Collection 1 Implementation Plans

In 2016, USGS started making changes to manage the Landsat archive as a tiered Collection of Landsat data. A Collection will provide a stable environmental record, and the tiered structure clearly identifies the subset of the Landsat archive that meets radiometric and geometric criteria suitable for time series analysis and the creation of data stacks/cubes, while continuing to provide access to the entire Landsat archive. A number of changes are being made to support this effort, including incorporating new Landsat product identifiers and placing the scenes into a tier structure. Collection 1 reprocessing of Landsat 8 data will begin January 2017, with data becoming available in February. More details about the Landsat Collection plans can be found on

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) and Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) are instruments onboard the Landsat 8 satellite, which was launched in February of 2013. The satellite collects images of the Earth with a 16-day repeat cycle, referenced to the Worldwide Reference System-2. The satellite’s acquisitions are in an 8-day offset to Landsat 7 (see The approximate scene size is 170 km north-south by 183 km east-west (106 mi by 114 mi).

The spectral bands of the OLI sensor, while similar to Landsat 7’s ETM+ sensor, provide enhancement from prior Landsat instruments, with the addition of two new spectral bands: a deep blue visible channel (band 1) specifically designed for water resources and coastal zone investigation, and a new infrared channel (band 9) for the detection of cirrus clouds. Two thermal bands (TIRS) capture data with a minimum of 100 meter resolution, but are registered to and delivered with the 30-meter OLI data product. (See Landsat satellite band designations for more information.) Landsat 8 file sizes are larger than Landsat 7 data, due to additional bands and improved 16-bit data product (see

Landsat 8 Level 1 data products typically include data from both the OLI and TIRS sensor; however, there may be OLI-only and/or TIRS-only scenes in the USGS archive. The first two values of the Landsat 8 scene ID designates the data provided in each scene:

LC80290302014084LGN00  = Combined (both OLI and TIRS data)
LO80810202014064LGN00  = OLI data only
LT81172002013314LGN00  = TIRS data only

A Quality Assurance (QA.tif) band is also included. This file provides bit information regarding conditions that may affect the accuracy and usability of a given pixel – clouds, water or snow, for example. More information about the QA band can be found at

LandsatLook Images (full resolution files) are also available for Landsat 8 scenes, as they are for all previous Landsat scenes. In addition to the Natural Color, Thermal, and Geographic Reference bundle files available, Landsat 8 scenes also include a Quality .png file. This provides a visual representation the QA.tif file. Details about LandsatLook images can be found on

Nearly 10,000 scenes were collected prior to the satellite achieving operational orbit, from launch to April 10, 2013. The earliest images are TIRS data only. These data are visible in the Landsat 8 OLI/TIRS Pre-WRS-2 data set on GloVis or EarthExplorer. While these data meet the quality standards and have the same geometric precision as data acquired on April 11, 2013 and beyond, the geographic extents of each scene will differ. Most of the scenes in the Pre-WRS-2 data set will process to full terrain correction, with a pixel size of 30 meters. There may be some differences in the spatial resolution of the early TIRS images due to telescope temperature changes.  

Standard Processing Parameters


Level 1T - Terrain Corrected

Pixel Size:

  • OLI Multispectral bands: 30 meters
  • OLI panchromatic band: 15 meters
  • TIRS Thermal bands: 100 meters (resampled to 30 meters to match multispectral bands)

Data Characteristics:

  • GeoTIFF data format
  • Cubic Convolution (CC) resampling
  • North Up (MAP) orientation
  • Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) map projection (Polar Stereographic for Antarctica)
  • World Geodetic System (WGS) 84 datum
  • 12 meter circular error, 90% confidence global accuracy for OLI
  • 41 meter circular error, 90% confidence global accuracy for TIRS
  • 16-bit pixel values

Data Delivery:

HTTP Download within 24 hours of acquisition

Additional Information:

Data Use and Citation Policies

For information on how to cite USGS data plus guidance on usage restrictions,
please see our Data Citations and Use page at

Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and
does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Contact Information for User Assistance

Long Term Archive User Services
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
47914 252nd Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57198-0001

Phone Number: 605-594-6151
Toll Free: 800-252-4547
Fax: 605-594-6589

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