Landsat 3 return beam vidicon response artifacts

Open-File Report 82-803




The return beam vidicon (RBV) sensing systems employed aboard Landsats 1, 2, and 3 have all been similar in that they have utilized vidicon tube cameras. These are not mirror-sweep scanning devices such as the multispectral scanner (MSS) sensors that have also been carried aboard the Landsat satellites. The vidicons operate more like common television cameras, using an electron gun to read images from a photoconductive faceplate.

In the case of Landsats 1 and 2, the RBV system consisted of three such vidicons which collected remote sensing data in three distinct spectral bands. Landsat 3, however, utilizes just two vidicon cameras, both of which sense data in a single broad band. The Landsat 3 RBV system additionally has a unique configuration. As arranged, the two cameras can be shuttered alternately, twice each, in the same time it takes for one MSS scene to be acquired. This shuttering sequence results in four RBV "subscenes" for every MSS scene acquired, similar to the four quadrants of a square. See Figure 1.

Each subscene represents a ground area of approximately 98 by 98 km. The subscenes are designated A, B, C, and D, for the northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast quarters of the full scene, respectively. RBV data products are normally ordered, reproduced, and sold on a subscene basis and are in general referred to in this way.

Each exposure from the RBV camera system presents an image which is 98 km on a side. When these analog video data are subsequently converted to digital form, the picture element, or pixel, that results is 19 m on a side with an effective resolution element of 30 m. This pixel size is substantially smaller than that obtainable in MSS images (the MSS has an effective resolution element of 73.4 m), and, when RBV images are compared to equivalent MSS images, better resolution in the RBV data is clearly evident. It is for this reason that the RBV system can be a valuable tool for remote sensing of earth resources.

Until recently, RBV imagery was processed directly from wideband video tape data onto 70-mm film. This changed in September 1980 when digital production of RBV data at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) began. The wideband video tape data are now subjected to analog-to-digital preprocessing and corrected both radiometrically and geometrically to produce high-density digital tapes (HDT's). The HDT data are subsequently transmitted via satellite (Domsat) to the EROS Data Center (EDC) where they are used to generate 241-mm photographic images at a scale of 1:500,000. Computer-compatible tapes of the data are also generated as digital products.

Of the RBV data acquired since September 1, 1980, approximately 2,800 subscenes per month have been processed at EDC.

Additional publication details

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Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Landsat 3 return beam vidicon response artifacts
Series title:
Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
14 p.