Return-Beam Vidicon (RBV) Overview


The Return-Beam Vidicon (RBV) sensor utilised vidicon tube instruments containing an electron gun that read images from a photoconductive faceplate similar to television cameras. The data stream received from the satellite was analog-to-digital preprocessed to correct for radiometric and geometric errors.

The RBV system was redesigned for Landsat 3 to use two cameras, mounted side-by-side, with panchromatic spectral response and higher spatial resolution than on Landsat 1 and Landsat 2, to complement the multispectral coverage provided by the MSS. Each of the cameras produced a swath of about 90 km (for a total swath of 180 km).

  • 40-metre-ground resolution
  • Three cameras operating in one broad spectral band (green to near-infrared; 0.505–0.750 µm)
  • Data recorded to 70 millimetre (mm) black and white film rolls
  • Data: 3.5 MHz FM video

RBV data was rarely used and considered useful for engineering evaluation purposes rather than science analysis. Visit RBV Film Only for more information.