Views of the News
March 3, 2014 - Landsat 8 scans the moon
Landsat 8 was built to do something none of its predecessors had done before: look at the Moon. The Moon provides a stable data source because it is a target with practically static surface cover and no atmospheric effects. Data from on-orbit lunar imaging can be used to track the stability of the Operational Land Imager (OLI) instrument and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) aboard Landsat 8, resulting in improved calibration of the data, making good data even better.
Landsat 8 typically collects lunar data monthly near full Moon - at the lunar phase angle of about 8 degrees. Any changes to the sensor’s radiometry (measurements of light) can be detected and used to improve sensor calibration. Lunar data are collected only for calibration or other engineering purposes, so it is not normally released to the public, but USGS and NASA have decided to put out a sample dataset for those eager to look more closely at Landsat 8 lunar data.
This image is from Landsat 8’s lunar acquisition on June 24, 2013.