Landsat Missions

L1-5 MSS Calibration Notices

You are here

Calibration Notices

Beginning April 1, 2011, an updated absolute radiometric calibration will be applied to all Multi-Spectral Scanner (MSS) products generated by the USGS. The newly processed image data will appear darker by 17.6% in band 1, 8.6% in band 2, 5.2% in band 3 and 4.5% in band 4. Consequently, the sensor dynamic ranges (LMIN/LMAX values) will be proportionally reduced.

Previously, the MSS products were processed using radiometric calibration that was consistent among the five sensors, but not linked to an absolute scale. The absolute calibration was estimated by comparing scene data acquired simultaneously by both MSS and Thematic Mapper (TM) sensors onboard Landsat 5 while accounting for differences in spectral bandpasses of the two sensors. This update puts the MSS products on the same absolute radiometric scale with the TM and Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) products.

Users need to be aware that although the MSS data now mirror the TM radiometric scale, the image-derived spectral radiances (W/m2 sr um) are not equivalent due to significant differences in the spectral bandpasses between TM and MSS instruments.


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.


Contact Us

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.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Ask Landsat
Page Last Modified: 11/29/16 03:03 pm