Operational Land Imager 


The Landsat program is a series of Earth-observing satellite missions jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. For 45 consecutive years, Landsat satellites have enabled us to monitor our changing planet, creating an archive unmatched in quality, detail, coverage and length. The eighth Landsat mission launched Feb. 11, 2013, and Landsat 9 is expected to launch in December, 2020.

Landsat data helps scientists make routine drought assessments and fire prevention plans; monitor land changes; plan land uses; and better understand the Earth’s ecosystem dynamic.
OLI instrument
OLI instrument

What we did 

Sensor and cryocooler provider 

We designed and built the Operational Land Imager (OLI) which represents a significant advancement in Landsat sensor technology with a more reliable design that improves performance.

 OLI’s 14-module detector array enables it to scan with a push-broom method rather than the older sweeping method. The OLI instrument provides 15-meter (49 ft.) panchromatic and 30-meter (98 ft.) multi-spectral spatial resolutions along a 185-kilometer (115 mi.) wide swath, which allows the entire globe to be imaged every 16 days. OLI’s sensitivity ultimately provides improved land surface information with fewer moving parts.

In addition to OLI, we made the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) cryocooler for Landsat 8. The cryocooler chills the TIRS instrument’s infrared photo detectors to a frigid 40K. Due to our technology advancements in OLI and the TIRS instrument, we’ve substantially improved radiometric performance over previous Landsat sensors. We're building these same components for LandSat 9, tentatively scheduled for launch in 2020.

OLI instrumental in Flood identification

Ball-built OLIS instrument on Landsat 8 helps identify flooding across central US.