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Peeling Back the Layers of NASA Landsat Data

by Kenny Hoeschen

NASA’s Landsat Program has been capturing the longest continuous global record of the Earth’s surface for more than 40 years through the use of satellite imagery. But the Landset satellites capture much more than just the visible wavelengths of light, and NASA explains what other wavelengths are surveyed and how those can be used to analyze Earth’s surface, human developments, plant growth, and much more.

Landsat satellites circle the globe every 99 minutes, collecting data about the land surfaces passing underneath. After 16 days, the Landsat satellite has passed over every spot on the globe, and recorded data in 11 different wavelength regions. The individual wavelength bands can be combined into color images, with different combinations of the 11 bands revealing different information about the condition of the land cover.

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