Atmospheric correction for Landsat Live

By Camilla Mahon on July 14 2015

We are building out automatic atmospheric correction to the Landsat Live pipeline, producing a clearer and more vibrant end product. Atmospherically corrected Landsat is not only more beautiful, it also more accurately represents the surface reflectance values that let scientists make quantified measurements of changes on Earth’s face.

From 705 km above the Earth’s surface, Landsat 8 looks through a layer of haze, dust, smog, and other optical barriers between it and the ground. Every aerosol particle in the atmosphere – in fact, every air molecule – provides an opportunity for light to deflect from the simple sun-ground-sensor path that provides the ideal image. The code base we are using to remove atmospheric effects takes into account a wide array of parameters, including sun angle and elevation, time of day, sensor height and angle, and meteorological measurements such as atmospheric ozone and aerosol concentration. For each Landsat scene, it creates a precise model of its distortions, then removes them.

What we get is a clearer, more accurate picture of Earth as it is:

Bolivia, east of Lake Poopó

Coast north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

East of Barrow, Alaska

North of Karasburg, Namibia

Coast of Indonesia, east of Padang