US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Remote Sensing of Environment 78 (2001) 55– 70.


The Thematic Mapper (TM) instruments on board Landsats 4 and 5 provide high-quality imagery appropriate for many different applications, including land cover mapping, landscape ecology, and change detection. Precise calibration was considered to be critical to the success of the Landsat 7 mission and, thus, issues of calibration were given high priority during the development of the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+). Data sets from the Landsat 5 TM are not routinely corrected for a number of radiometric and geometric artifacts, including memory effect, gain/bias, and interfocal plane misalignment. In the current investigation, the effects of correcting vs. not correcting these factors were investigated for several applications. Gain/bias calibrations were found to have a greater impact on most applications than did memory effect calibrations. Correcting interfocal plane offsets was found to have a moderate effect on applications. On June 2, 1999, Landsats 5 and 7 data were acquired nearly simultaneously over a study site in the Niobrara, NE area. Field radiometer data acquired at that site were used to facilitate crosscalibrations of Landsats 5 and 7 data. Current findings and results from previous investigations indicate that the internal calibrator of Landsat 5 TM tracked instrument gain well until 1988. After this, the internal calibrator diverged from the data derived from vicarious calibrations. Results from this study also indicate very good agreement between prelaunch measurements and vicarious calibration data for all Landsat 7 reflective bands except Band 4. Values are within about 3.5% of each other, except for Band 4, which differs by 10%. Coefficient of variation (CV) values derived from selected targets in the imagery were also analyzed. The Niobrara Landsat 7 imagery was found to have lower CV values than Landsat 5 data, implying that lower levels of noise characterize Landsat 7 data than current Landsat 5 data. It was also found that following radiometric normalization, the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) imagery and classification products of Landsats 5 and 7 were very similar. This implies that data from the two sensors can be used to measure and monitor the same landscape phenomena and that Landsats 5 and 7 data can be used interchangeably with proper caution. In addition, it was found that difference imagery produced using Landsat 7 ETM+ data are of excellent quality.