CIESIN Themaric Guides

Landsat Multispectral Scanner

The Multispectral Scanner (MSS), launched on-board Landsat 1 in July 1972, was the world's first Earth observation satellite sensor. The MSS provided four spectral bands of Earth surface reflectance in the visible and near-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum at a nominal 80-m spatial resolution, as illustrated by the Figure of Observation Characteristics. The U.S. Geological Survey's Global Land Information System (GLIS) provides information on the sensor, and acquisition and availability of Multispectral Scanner Landsat Data.

Landsat MSS data, collected by Landsats 1 through 5 from 1972 to 1993, provide the longest and most extensive archive of satellite image data for monitoring the global land surface. Efforts are ongoing to reconfigure selected portions of the historical global Landsat data archive into the Landsat Pathfinder Data Set to make it more readily useful for change detection.

In February 1993, the Earth Observation Satellite Company (EOSAT), commercial operator of Landsats 4 and 5, suspended acquisition of Landsat MSS data. Landsat MSS data are now superseded by data from the Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM).