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On-Orbit Radiometric Performance of the Landsat 8 Thermal Infrared Sensor

Sigma Space Corporation, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
Science System and Applications, Inc., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2014, 6(12), 11753-11769;
Received: 4 August 2014 / Revised: 4 November 2014 / Accepted: 6 November 2014 / Published: 27 November 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Landsat-8 Sensor Characterization and Calibration)
PDF [474 KB, uploaded 27 November 2014]


The Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) requirements for noise, stability, and uniformity were designed to ensure the radiometric integrity of the data products. Since the launch of Landsat 8 in February 2013, many of these evaluations have been based on routine measurements of the onboard calibration sources, which include a variable-temperature blackbody and a deep space view port. The noise equivalent change in temperature (NEdT) of TIRS data is approximately 0.05 K @ 300 K in both bands, exceeding requirements by about a factor of 8 and Landsat 7 ETM+ performance by a factor of 3. Coherent noise is not readily apparent in TIRS data. No apparent change in the detector linearization has been observed. The radiometric stability of the TIRS instrument over the period between radiometric calibrations (about 40 min) is less than one count of dark current and the variation in terms of radiance is less than 0.015 \(W/m^2/sr/\mu m\) (or 0.13 K) at 300 K, easily meeting the short term stability requirements. Long term stability analysis has indicated a degradation of about 0.2% or less per year. The operational calibration is only updated using the biases taken every orbit, due to the fundamental stability of the instrument. By combining the data from two active detector rows per band, 100% detector operability is maintained for the instrument. No trends in the noise, operability, or short term radiometric stability are apparent over the mission life. The uniformity performance is more difficult to evaluate as scene-varying banding artifacts have been observed in Earth imagery. Analyses have shown that stray light is affecting the recorded signal from the Earth and inducing the banding depending on the content of the surrounding Earth surface. As the stray light effects are stronger in the longer wavelength TIRS band11 (12.0 \(\mu m\)), the uniformity is better in the shorter wavelength band10 (10.9 \(\mu m\)). Both bands have exceptional noise and stability performance and band10 has generally adequate uniformity performance and should currently be used in preference to band11. The product uniformity will improve with the stray light corrections being developed. View Full-Text
Keywords: Landsat; TIRS; performance; noise; stability Landsat; TIRS; performance; noise; stability

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Montanaro, M.; Levy, R.; Markham, B. On-Orbit Radiometric Performance of the Landsat 8 Thermal Infrared Sensor. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 11753-11769.

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