"The Landsat Program provides the longest continuous space-based record of Earth’s land in existence. Since 1972, Landsat satellites have collected measurements of Earth’s continents and surrounding coastal regions that have enabled people to study forests, food production, water and land use, ecosystems, geology, and more. The long data record allows scientists to evaluate the dynamic changes caused by both natural processes and human practices. The Landsat Program is jointly managed by the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA."  Landsat 8 (formerly the Landsat Data Continuity Mission) was launched on February 11, 2013. It joined Landsat 7 orbiting the earth.  These satellites continue to deliver visually stunning and scientifically valuable images of our planet.  These data allow scientists to assess changes in Earth’s landscape.

Key Strengths:

  • Long record and high resolution.

Years of Record

1972/01 to 2013/09
temporal metadataID:



Data Time Period Extended?

yes, data set is extended


Vertical Levels

Earth system components and main variables

Suggested Data Citation

“Landsat imagery courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and U.S. Geological Survey” or “USGS/NASA Landsat”

Key Figures

Click the thumbnails to view larger sizes



"This false-color (shortwave infrared, near infrared, and green) satellite image reveals an active lava flow on the western slopes of Klyuchevskaya, one of several active volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia. The lava flow itself is bright red. Snow on Klyuchevskaya and nearby mountains is cyan, while bare ground and volcanic debris is gray or brown. Vegetation is green. The image was collected by Landsat 8 on September 9, 2013. NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using Earth Explorer." (source: USGS/NASA Landsat)

Cite this page

National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 30 Sep 2013. "The Climate Data Guide: LANDSAT." Retrieved from

Acknowledgement of any material taken from this page is appreciated. On behalf of experts who have contributed data, advice, and/or figures, please cite their work as well.