The Landsat suite of satellites has collected the longest continuous archive of multispectral data of any land-observing space program. From the Landsat program's inception in 1972 to the present, the Earth science user community has benefited from a historical record of remotely sensed data. However, little attention has been paid to ensuring that the data are calibrated and comparable from mission to mission, Launched in 1982 and 1984 respectively, the Landsat 4 (L4) and Landsat 5 (L5) Thematic Mappers (TM) are the backbone of an extensive archive of moderate resolution Earth imagery. To evaluate the "current" absolute accuracy of these two sensors, image pairs from the L5 TM and L4 TM sensors were compared. The approach involves comparing image statistics derived from large common areas observed eight days apart by the two sensors. The average percent differences in reflectance estimates obtained from the L4 TM agree with those from the L5 TM to within 15 percent. Additional work to characterize the absolute differences between the two sensors over the entire mission is in progress.
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Absolute calibration accuracy of L4 TM and L5 TM sensor image pairs