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Operational Land Imager (OLI)
Operational Land Imager (OLI) logo

The Operational Land Imager (OLI), built by the Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, will measure in the visible, near infrared, and short wave infrared portions of the spectrum. Its images will have 15-meter (49 ft.) panchromatic and 30-meter multi-spectral spatial resolutions along a 185 km (115 miles) wide swath, covering wide areas of the Earth's landscape while providing sufficient resolution to distinguish features like urban centers, farms, forests and other land uses. The entire Earth will fall within view once every 16 days due to LDCM’s near-polar orbit.

OLI’s design is an advancement in Landsat sensor technology and uses an approach demonstrated by the Advanced Land Imager sensor flown on NASA’s experimental EO-1 satellite. Instruments on earlier Landsat satellites employed scan mirrors to sweep the instrument fields of view across the surface swath width and transmit light to a few detectors. The OLI will instead use long detector arrays, with over 7,000 detectors per spectral band, aligned across its focal plane to view across the swath. This “push-broom” design results in a more sensitive instrument providing improved land surface information with fewer moving parts. With an improved signal-to-noise ratio compared to past Landsat instruments, engineers expect this new OLI design to be more reliable and to provide improved performance.

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Mike Taylor
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.