Landsat Missions

Landsat Higher-Level Science Data Products

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The USGS is responsible for developing research-quality, applications-ready, science data products derived from Landsat data.  These products can be used to monitor, assess, and project how changes in land use, land cover, and land condition affect people and nature.

Some of these products, known as Climate Data Records (CDRs), are time-series observational data of sufficient length, consistency, and continuity to record effects of climate change. The USGS is responsible for producing Surface Reflectance - the fraction of incoming solar radiation that is reflected from Earth's surface to the Landsat sensor - and Land Surface Temperature (LST) - a measure of how much heat is radiated from Earth's surface – as standalone CDRs.

CDRs serve as input onto higher-level Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) and represent specific geophysical and biophysical properties of the land surface. The USGS is developing the following ECVs: Burned Area (BA), Dynamic Surface Water Extent (DSWE), Fractional Snow Covered Area (fSCA), and global 30 meter land cover. CDRs and ECVs are parameters derived from systematic long-term measurements collected by satellite and aircraft platforms as well as in situ observational networks.

Higher-Level Science data products produced by the USGS are processed consistently to create a continuous record of the effects of climate change on Earth’s surface.  Information on the algorithms used to produce Higher-Level Science data products can be found on the Landsat Higher-Level Science Data Product Software webpage.


The images above are mosaics created using Landsat 8 Level-1 data (left) and Provisional Landsat 8 Surface Reflectance data (right). Images created December 2014.

Landsat image mosaics over the conterminous United States created using Landsat 8 Level-1 data (left) and Landsat 8 Surface Reflectance data (right). Images were created in December 2014.

Available Science Data Products

Currently, Surface Reflectance data and Surface Reflectance-derived spectral indices are available for most Landsat scenes acquired from August 1982 to present.

Future data products include Land Surface Temperature (LST), Burned Area (BA), Dynamic Surface Water Extent (DSWE), and Fractional Snow Covered Area (fSCA); these products will become available as they complete development.


Landsat Higher-Level science data products metadata contain significant amounts of information that can be used to locate specific data files in the archive inventory, and inform users of certain data product characteristics. The metadata files may vary based on which interface is being used to order the product.


Quality Assessment (QA) bands provide users an indication of whether the integrity of Higher-Level Science data products have been affected by instrument artifacts, production software updates, or atmospheric conditions.

Data Access

Processing requests for Surface Reflectance and other Higher-Level Science data products can be submitted at no charge, with data products ready within 1 to 3 days. The Higher Level Science Data Access page provides information on the ordering interfaces.

News Archive

Visit the Landsat Higher-Level Science Data Products News Archive for updates to Landsat Higher-Level Science Data Products or the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center Science Processing Architecture (ESPA) On-demand interface



Landsat represents the world's longest continuously acquired collection of space-based moderate-resolution land remote sensing data. Four decades of imagery provides a unique resource for those who work in agriculture, geology, forestry, regional planning, education, mapping, and global change research. Landsat images are also invaluable for emergency response and disaster relief.


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Landsat Updates

The Landsat Update is an informal communication tool, prepared periodically and distributed electronically to USGS Landsat partners, to provide information about Landsat activities and related topics of interest.

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Page Last Modified: 06/22/17 05:09 pm