Landsat-5 has been imaging the Earth since March 1984, and Landsat-7 was added to the series of Landsat instruments in April 1999. The Landsat Project Science Office and the Landsat-7 Image Assessment System have been monitoring the on-board calibration of Landsat-7 since launch. Additionally, two separate university teams have been evaluating the on-board thermal calibration of Landsat-7 through ground-based measurements since launch. Although not monitored as closely over its lifetime, a new effort is currently being made to validate the calibration of Landsat-5. Two university teams are beginning to collect ground truth under Landsat-5, along with using other vicarious calibration methods to go back into the archive to validate the history of the calibration of Landsat-5. This paper considers the calibration efforts for the thermal band, band 6, of both the Landsat-5 and Landsat-7 instruments. Though stable since launch, Landsat-7 had an initial calibration error of about 3 K, and changes were made to correct for this beginning 1 October 2000 for data processed with the National Landsat Archive Production System (NLAPS) and beginning 20 December 2000 for data processed with the Landsat Product Generation System (LPGS). Recent results from Landsat-5 vicarious calibration efforts show an offset of –0.7 K over the lifetime of the instrument. This suggests that historical calibration efforts may have been detecting errors in processing systems rather than changes in the instrument. A correction to the Landsat-5 processing has not yet been implemented but will be in the near future.

Publication Date



Appears in the specialized issue, "Synergistic Utilization of Landsat-7". ISSN:0703-8992 Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


RIT – Main Campus