Landsat Missions

How do Landsat 8 band combinations differ from Landsat 7 or Landsat 5 satellite data?

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How do Landsat 8 band combinations differ from Landsat 7 or Landsat 5 satellite data?


Because Landsat 8 data includes additional bands, the combinations used to create RGB composites differ from Landsat 7 and Landsat 5. For instance, bands 4, 3, 2 are used to create a color infrared (CIR) image using Landsat 7 or Landsat 5. To create a CIR composite using Landsat 8 data, bands 5, 4, 3 are used.

The graph at the bottom of the page shows the wavelengths from both Landsat 7 (bottom row) and Landsat 8 (top row). Seeing where the bands fall will help to create Landsat 8 RGB composites that will be comparable to Landsat 7 and 5.

Displayed below are some common band combinations in RGB comparisons for Landsat 7 or Landsat 5, and Landsat 8.

    Landsat 7
Landsat 5
Landsat 8
Color Infrared: 4, 3, 2 5,4,3
Natural Color: 3, 2, 1 4,3,2
False Color: 5,4,3 6,5,4
False Color: 7,5,3 7,6,4
False Color: 7,4,2 7,5,3

Landsat 8's OLI sensor includes a new coastal/aerosol band (band1), which can be used with two other bands for closer investigations of coastal waters and estimating the concentration of aerosols in the atmosphere, however, in most cases, models will use the radiance values of this band.

Also new, OLI's cirrus band (band 9) provides better detection of cirrus cloud contamination in each scene.


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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