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Prof. Dr.

Altaf Ali Siyal

Acquiring Landsat Imagery and reading metafile
The Landsat program offers the longest continuous global record of the Earths surface; it continues
to deliver visually stunning and scientifically valuable images of our planet. This short video highlights
Landsats many benefits to society. On July 23, 1972 the Earth Resources Technology Satellite was
launched. This was eventually renamed to Landsat. The most recent, Landsat 8, was launched on
February 11, 2013. For over 40 years, the Landsat program has collected spectral information from
Earths surface, creating a historical archive unmatched in quality, detail, coverage, and length. The
timeline of different Landsat satellites is shown in the Figure.

Landsat data have been used to monitor water quality, glacier recession, sea ice movement, invasive
species encroachment, coral reef health, land use change, deforestation rates and population
growth. Landsat has also helped to assess damage from natural disasters such as fires, floods, and
tsunamis, and subsequently, plan disaster relief and flood control programs.
As a Landsat satellite flies over the surface of the Earth and the instruments aboard the satellite are
able to view a swath 185 kilometers wide and collect images along that swath as the satellite
proceeds through its orbit. The spacecraft travels at approximately 4.7 miles per second. The satellite
travels from north to south while it's over the sunlit portion of the Earth, and travels south to north
over the dark side of the Earth. One orbit takes about 99 minutes, so that's about approximately 15
orbits in a 24 hour period. The orbit's maintained such that after 16 days, the entire surface of the
Earth has come within view of the Landsat instruments, while sunlit, and then on day 17 the first
ground path is repeated. So we get to view the entire surface once every 16 days. Landsat 8 images
consist of eleven spectral bands, out of which nine bands with a spatial resolution of 30 meters for
Bands 1 to 7 and 9. The resolution for Band 8 (panchromatic) is 15 meters. Thermal bands 10 and 11
are useful in providing more accurate surface temperatures and are acquired at 100 meters.
Approximate scene size is 170 km north-south by 183 km east-west (106 mi by 114 mi).
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Prof. Dr. Altaf Ali Siyal

Landsat Metadata files contain beneficial information for the systematic searching and archiving
practices of data, and also explain the essential characteristics of the Level 1 data products. Metadata
describe individual parameters used during processing of the data, including the processing levels of
each scene. Values important for enhancing Landsat data (such as conversion to reflectance and
radiance) are also included in this file.
Landsat Metadata files contain beneficial information for the systematic searching and archiving
practices of data, and also explain the essential characteristics of the Level 1 data products. Metadata
describe individual parameters used during processing of the data, including the processing levels of
each scene. It is a human-readable text file in Object Definition Language (ODL) format. In general,
the MTL file includes the following parameters:

Unique Landsat scene identifier

WRS path and row information
Scene Center Time of the date the image was acquired
Corner longitude and latitude in degrees and map projection values in meters
Reflective, thermal, and panchromatic band lines and samples
File names included
Image attributes including cloud cover, sun azimuth & elevation, number of ground control
points used
Band minimum and maximum reflectance and radiance rescaling

Before you start, create a lab10 folder at desktop


Navigate your internet browser to the USGS GloVis (Global Visualization Viewer) website:


Notice, on the left hand side is a larger extent map showing what area you are zoomed in
on. Underneath this, are tools to be used while navigating downloadable data. On the
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Prof. Dr. Altaf Ali Siyal

right side, GloVis is showing a compilation of the Landsat satellite images. The yellow
square is outlining what represents one scene. These scenes are laid out in the direction
the satellite travels and can be downloaded individually.

Useful tools within the GloVis viewer:

a. Navigational arrows: middle/left hand side of window. One can also navigate the scenes
being seen by left-clicking and dragging the cursor.

b. WRS-2 Path/Row: This is directly below the large extent map and tells the user which
scene is highlighted on a grid format. The path numbers decrease from left to right and
the row references increase from top to bottom.


Scene Information: This section allows the user to see the date the satellite image was
taken and allows for navigation by month and year as well as providing an ID for each
data scene (e.g. LE70330342003106EDC00).

d. The bottom left window is what will be used when downloading individual scenes of data.
This includes tabs: Add, Del, and Send to Cart.

e. Finally, the options at the top allow you to choose specific data being viewed, change
resolution, and add various layers. For this example we use the Path = 51 and Row = 43
to download image of Badin district.

Limit the scenes shown in the browse viewer by setting search limits. Select the "Tools"
menu from the menu bar and then click "Search Limits...
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Prof. Dr. Altaf Ali Siyal


View the available images for the highlighted location with the "Prev Scene" and "Next
Scene" buttons. You can also "shortcut" to a specific date by entering the month and year.
The possible dates will be dependent upon the sensor, as well as the specific data in the
USGS browse image inventory


Limited "zoom in" and "zoom out" can be achieved by selecting the "Resolution" menu on
the menu bar and clicking on the resolution to be viewed

Downloading the Data

Before downloading the data, it is helpful to create the folder in which you intend to store your data.
Note that the data will be downloaded in a packaged format of a .tar.gz file

In order to download the data file, registration with website GloVIs is required. A
username and password are need for a USGS account. Setting up an account is free.
Simply follow the registration process provided by the link when you attempt to
download data for the first time.


Within the GloVis viewer navigate to the scene you are interested in (when it is
highlighted in green). This can be done using the arrows, or by the click of the mouse.
The scene of interest can also be selected by putting Path/Row numbers. These will be
visible within the file name downloaded.


Next, in the bottom left hand corner, click the Add tab. This will add the scene you
chose to the window just above the tabs. The download tab will activate if the scene is
available for download. It should look something like this (also notice the green box
around the scene once it has been added):

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Prof. Dr. Altaf Ali Siyal


Several scenes can be added to this download list, but each scene must be downloaded


Click the send to Cart button (located next to delete button). A new window will open
containing information about your scene


Click on the disk icon in the last column of the table

download different options of scene.

. A new window will open with

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Prof. Dr. Altaf Ali Siyal


Click on Download for Level 1 Product and then the download should begin. Save the
file to the folder you designated earlier

Decompressing the data

This step may be done a number of different ways with numerous compatible programs. Usually the
file format with which we are dealing with (.tar.gz) will require some type of decompressing software
package like WinRAR.


Locate the downloaded Landsat data file (which should now be seen as a WinRAR file
with the WinRAR icon next to it) within the data folder created previously.
Right click the file you want to extract and click on extract files

A pop window will open. Select the folder where you want to extract the file then press

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