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  • Writer's pictureGeoinformers

A USGS tool to figure out which satellite band to use for Remote Sensing

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has developed a very useful and unique tool named as the Spectral Characteristics Viewer . The Spectral Characteristics Viewer allows users to determine which satellite bands are best suited for their research application.

After selecting the band numbers of the available satellite instrument(s) one can view how they measure the intensity of the wavelengths (colors) of light (also known as Relative Spectral Response -RSR).

It also has the facility to select the spectra of some minerals, vegetations, water types and coating rocks. So we can come to how spectrum of a feature looks like for a particular satellite imagery data.

Fig: Example of spectral Characteristics of Sentinel-2 bands

Bands available for satellites: The RSR for the following satellites are currently available:

  • Landsat 8 OLI

  • Landsat 8 TIRS (not currently displayed in viewer)

  • Landsat 7 ETM+

  • Landsat 5 TM

  • Landsat 4 TM

  • Landsat 5 MSS

  • Landsat 4 MSS

  • Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) Advanced Land Imager (ALI)

  • Terra Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) (Ref:

  • Terra Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) (Ref:

  • SENTINEL-2A (also available in the Sentinel 2 Document Library)

Visit the tool website by clicking here


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