Landsat Missions

How do I determine the processing level of the Landsat scene I have downloaded?

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How do I determine the processing level of the Landsat scene I have downloaded?


The processing level designations can be found in the metadata (.MTL.txt) files that are delivered with Landsat Level-1 data products.

The MTL.txt file is included when data is processed through the Landsat Product Generation System (LPGS). All Landsat 8 (2013-present), all Landsat 7 ETM+ (1999-present), most Landsat 4-5 TM (1982-present) and all Landsat MSS 1-5 (1972-1983 and 2012-2013) data are processed through LPGS.

The processing level designations changed when Landsat 8, Landsat 7, and Landsat 4-5 TM scenes were processed into Collection 1 Level-1 data products.   Landsat 1-5 MSS scenes remain Pre-Collection data products until they are processed into the Collection 1 archive, which is planned to begin late 2017.

Landsat Level-1 Data Products Processing Levels

Pre-Collection (MSS)

Collection 1


Radiometrically calibrated and orthorectified using ground control points and digital elevation model (DEM) data to correct for relieft displacement. These are the highest quality Level-1 products suitable for pixel-level time series analysis.


Radiometrically calibrated and systematic geometric corrections applied using the spacecraft ephemeris and DEM data to correct for relief displacement.



Radiometrically calibrated with systematic geometric corrections using the spacecraft ephemeris data.

Figure 1. Pre-Collection and Collection 1 Processing Levels

Within the MTL.txt file for each Pre-Collection and Collection 1 scene, the processing level is listed as DATA TYPE, as seen in Figure 2 below.

Comparison of Pre-Collection and Collection 1 MTL Processing Levels
Figure 2. Left: Pre-Collection Processing Level designation in metadata file. Right: Collection 1 Processing Level designation in metadata file.



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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