Landsat Missions

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Known Issues

Landsat data are systematic, geometric, radiometric, and terrain corrected to provide the highest quality data to the user communities. Occasionally, anomalies occur and artifacts are discovered that require research and monitoring. The Landsat Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val) team investigates and tracks anomalous data.

A number of known issues regarding Landsat data are listed on this page. Updates to this list are not only made when new anomalies and artifacts are discovered, but also when investigations require changes to already existing issues.

If you discover data artifacts that are not listed here, please contact us.

Known Issues Home, Banding, Coherent Noise, Coherent Noise Storm, Data Loss, Detector Failure, Detector Ringing, Detector Striping, Gimbaled X-band Antenna (GXA) Anomaly, IC Intrusion, Impulse Noise (IN), Lower Truncation Acquisitions, Memory Effect (ME), Optical Leak, Oversaturation, Scan Correlated Shift (SCS), Scan Mirror Pulse, Shutter Synchronization Anomalies, Single Event Upset (SEU)


Several artifacts are known to cause the effect described as Banding in Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) data.

Example of Banding due to Scan Correlated Shift (SCS) in Landsat 5 TM Band 3 IC region data.

Figure 1. Example of Banding due to Scan Correlated Shift (SCS) in Landsat 5 TM Band 3 IC region data.
Click to view larger image. - .gif (149 KB)

Scan Correlated Shift (SCS) causes banding by forcing each scan to randomly choose one of the two or more bias states. This banding has a stable magnitude across each scan.

Example of Banding due to Memory Effect (ME) in Landsat 5 TM Band 3 data.

Figure 2. Example of Banding due to Memory Effect (ME) in Landsat 5 TM Band 3 data.
Click to view larger image. - .gif (166 KB)

Memory Effect (ME) causes banding-like patterns that change in magnitude across a scan. ME is caused by a large radiance transition in the scanning direction, from bright target to dark or from dark target to bright, either in the imagery or in the IC region of the data. For ME to create banding, the target is usually many scan lines in size, and if the target is in the imagery, the banding may visibly change over the bright target.

Calibration Error Banding, also known as "True Banding" or "Sweep Striping," is caused by errors in calibration algorithms that treat forward and reverse scans separately, so that one direction of scan has a different bias than the other. These errors create a Banding artifact that is stable across the scan and consistently alternates between high and low bias. True Banding is rare in TM data and is corrected when found, but it may be visible in data from older instruments.

  Magnitude Appearance
Scan Correlated Shift (SCS) stable across a scan randomly bright or dark
Memory Effect (ME) changes across a scan alternately bright and dark
Calibration Error Banding stable across a scan alternately bright and dark

More than one of these artifacts can affect an instrument, causing banding of a complex character that may be difficult to diagnose with a cursory visual inspection. All forms of banding are known artifacts. They are all correctable and not cause for concern.


Landsat represents the world's longest continuously acquired collection of space-based moderate-resolution land remote sensing data. Four decades of imagery provides a unique resource for those who work in agriculture, geology, forestry, regional planning, education, mapping, and global change research. Landsat images are also invaluable for emergency response and disaster relief.


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Landsat Updates

The Landsat Update is an informal communication tool, prepared periodically and distributed electronically to USGS Landsat partners, to provide information about Landsat activities and related topics of interest.

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