This Tools Helps You Figure Out Which Satellite Bands to Use for Remote Sensing

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There are a slew of satellite imagery options, each offering a range of bands which can be used to measure soil, water, vegetation, and more.  The USGS offers the Landsat Spectral Characteristics Viewer which lets users view how different earth observation satellite instruments can be used for their remote sensing needs.

Users can select different bands from various earth observation satellite instruments to see the different Relative Spectral Response (RSR) which is the measurement of the intensity of the wavelengths (colors) of light.  The Spectra option lets users pick the type of matter to see the spectral response of minerals, vegetation, water or coating-rocks.

Despite its name, the tool lets users view RSR for instruments on other earth observation satellites in addition to Landsat ones:

  • Landsat 8 OLI
  • Landsat 8 TIRS
  • Landsat 7 ETM+
  • Landsat 5 TM
  • Landsat 4 TM
  • Landsat 5 MSS
  • Landsat 4 MSS
  • Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) Advanced Land Imager (ALI)
  • Terra Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER)
  • Terra Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.