Multi Spectral Scanner (MSS) CAL/VAL

Calibration Activities

The calibration accuracy of Landsat data is under the responsibility of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science Center (EROS) and South Dakota State University (SDSU). The calibration has always relied on the Landsat Calibration Validation Science Team (CVST), including people from NASA GSFC, USGS EROS, SDSU, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), University of Arizona (U of A) and Rochester Institute of Science and Technology (RIT).

Radiometric Calibration

The Landsat MSS instrument has been placed on the radiometric scale of the Landsat 5 TM instrument and is useful for long term studies.

This calibration has been validated by comparing MSS, TM, ETM+ and Landsat 8 OLI data based on measurements done over ground targets that are assumed to be stable, pseudo invariant sites. The associated radiometric calibration uncertainty is less than 5%, with band 4 being the worst case and bands 1–3 showing uncertainties of around 3%, more details can be found in the Radiometric Calibration of the Landsat MSS Sensor Series Document.

A summary of issues and impacts to Landsat data is available under the Landsat Missions Calibration Notices section on the USGS website.


  • Landsat Calibration Update:A presentation reporting the Landsat calibration / validation results on the temporal uncertainty of radiometric calibration of all Landsat sensors.
  • Pre-launch and Post-launch calibration procedures: Landsat 1 to 3 and Landsat 4

Validation Activities

Validation activities focus on checking the geometric and radiometric performance, in terms of both the ESA archive consistency and in comparison to the USGS archive.