The Landsat 8 satellite (launched February 11, 2013) images the entire Earth every 16 days in an 8-day offset from Landsat 7. Data collected by the instruments onboard the satellite are available to download at no charge from EarthExplorer, GloVis, or the LandsatLook Viewer within 24 hours of acquisition.
The spectral bands of the OLI sensor provides enhancement from prior Landsat instruments, with the addition of two additional spectral bands: a deep blue visible channel (band 1) specifically designed for water resources and coastal zone investigation, and a new shortwave infrared channel (band 9) for the detection of cirrus clouds.*
The TIRS instrument collects two spectral bands for the wavelength covered by a single band on the previous TM and ETM+ sensors. Descriptions of the band designations for all Landsat sensors, and information about the comparisons between Landsat 8 and previous bands are also available.
These sensors both provide improved signal-to-noise (SNR) radiometric performance quantized over a 12-bit dynamic range. (This translates into 4096 potential grey levels in an image compared with only 256 grey levels in previous 8-bit instruments.) Improved signal to noise performance enable better characterization of land cover state and condition. Products are delivered as 16-bit images (scaled to 55,000 grey levels).
A Quality Assessment band is also included with each Landsat 8 data product. This band allows users to apply per pixel filters to the Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI)-only and Landsat 8 OLI/Thermal Infrared Sensor (OLI/TIRS)-combined data products.
Landsat 8 data products are consistent with other Landsat standard Level-1 data products, using specifications described on the Landsat Processing Details page.
In 2016, the USGS started reorganizing the Landsat archive into a formal tiered data Collection structure. This data Collection structure ensures that Landsat Level-1 products provide a consistent archive of known data quality to support time series analyses and data “stacking”, while controlling continuous improvement of the archive and access to all data as they are acquired. Visit the Landsat Collections page for important information about the Collections effort.
The Landsat Processing Details page provides information on the processing levels for Landsat Pre-Collection and Collection 1 data products.
Nearly 10,000 scenes were acquired by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and/or Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) sensors after launch (February 11, 2013) through April 10, 2013, when the satellite achieved operational orbit (WRS-2). The earliest images are TIRS data only. These data are also visible and can be downloaded from EarthExplorer or GloVis.
While these data meet the quality standards and have the same geometric precision as data acquired on and after April 11, 2013, the geographic extents of each scene may differ.
Most data will be processed to the highest level possible, however there may be some differences in the spatial resolution of the early TIRS images due to telescope temperature changes, but they should be within +/- 1 percent.
The Landsat 8 Data User's Handbook provides information about the Landsat 8 data products.
Information is available for converting Landsat 8 Level-1 data to radiance, reflectance and at-satellite brightness temperature.
Images of important areas in the development of Landsat 8 are available.
*Gao, B.C. and Kaufman, Y.J. 1995. Selection of the 1.375 micrometer MODIS Channel for Remote Sensing of Cirrus Clouds and Stratospheric Aerosols from Space, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 52 (23), p.4231-4237.