Multi-temporal analysis is one of the main applications of remote sensing, and Landsat imagery has been one of the main resources for many years. However, the moderate spatial resolution (30 m) restricts their use for high precision applications. In this paper, we simulate Landsat scenes to evaluate, by means of an exhaustive number of tests, a subpixel registration process based on phase correlation and the upsampling of the Fourier transform. From a high resolution image (0.5 m), two sets of 121 synthetic images of fixed translations are created to simulate Landsat scenes (30 m). In this sense, the use of the point spread function (PSF) of the Landsat TM (Thematic Mapper) sensor in the downsampling process improves the results compared to those obtained by simple averaging. In the process of obtaining sub-pixel accuracy by upsampling the cross correlation matrix by a certain factor, the limit of improvement is achieved at 0.1 pixels. We show that image size affects the cross correlation results, but for images equal or larger than 100 × 100 pixels similar accuracies are expected. The large dataset used in the tests allows us to describe the intra-pixel distribution of the errors obtained in the registration process and how they follow a waveform instead of random/stochastic behavior. The amplitude of this waveform, representing the highest expected error, is estimated at 1.88 m. Finally, a validation test is performed over a set of sub-pixel shorelines obtained from actual Landsat-5 TM, Landsat-7 ETM+ (Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus) and Landsat-8 OLI (Operation Land Imager) scenes. The evaluation of the shoreline accuracy with respect to permanent seawalls, before and after the registration, shows the importance of the registering process and serves as a non-synthetic validation test that reinforce previous results.
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