You are here

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


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:

LC08_L1TP_003055_20170207_20170216_01_T1 = Combined (both OLI and TIRS data)
LO08_L1TP_021047_20150304_20170227_01_T1 = OLI data only
LT08_L1GT_137206_20170202_20170215_01_T2 = 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 included in the Landsat 8 OLI/TIRS C1 Level-1 data set on EarthExplorer. While these data meet the quality standards and have the same geometric precision as data acquired after achieving operational orbit, the geographic extents of each scene will differ. Most of the scenes 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

Landsat 8 OLI/TIRS Collection 1

Landsat Tiers are the inventory structure for Landsat Collection 1 Level-1 data products and are based on data quality and level of processing. All scenes in the Landsat archive are assigned to a Collection category. The purpose of Collection categories is to support rapid and easy identification of suitable scenes for time-series pixel level analysis. During Collection 1 reprocessing, all Landsat 8 OLI/TIRS scenes in the USGS archive are assigned to a specific “Tier”. These data have well-characterized radiometric quality and are cross-calibrated ​among the different Landsat sensors.​​​

Collection Category (Tier)

  • Tier 1 (T1) – Contains the highest quality Level-1 Precision Terrain (L1TP) data considered suitable for time-series analysis. The georegistration is consistent and within prescribed tolerances [<12m root mean square error (RMSE)].
  • Tier 2 (T2) – Contains L1TP scenes not meeting Tier 1 criteria and all Systematic Terrain (L1GT) and Systematic (L1GS) scenes. Users interested in Tier 2 scenes can evaluate the L1TP RMSE and other properties to determine suitability for use in their applications and studies.
  • Real-Time (RT) – Contains newly acquired Landsat 8 scenes, which require a period of evaluation and calibration adjustment after acquisition but are processed immediately based on preliminary calibration coefficients, assigned to the temporary RT Tier, and made available for download. When definitive calibration information becomes available, these scenes are reprocessed, assigned to the appropriate Tier 1 or Tier 2 category, and removed from the RT Tier (Temporary designation).

The Landsat Collections web page contains additional information about changes applied to Landsat Level-1 data products for Collection 1.

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

Business Hours: Monday thru Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Central Time