Skip Navigation
Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Multi-Temporal vs. Hyper-Spectral Imaging for Future Land Imaging at 30 m

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

We propose to determine the information content of multi-temporal land imaging in discrete Landsat-like spectral bands at 30 m with a 360 km swath width and compare this to the information content of hyper-spectral land imaging at 60 m with a swath width of 145 km.  We will analyze 30 m visible and near infrared cloud-free data collected every two weeks for the entire continuous lower 48-sates in 2011 and 2012. 

The extremely successful Landsat series of satellites have collected invaluable imagery of the Earth’s surface since Landsat-1 was launched in 1972.  Since 1982 with Landsat-4’s thematic mapper instrument, 30 m multispectral imagery have been collected in discrete visible, near-infrared, and short wave infrared bands complemented by thermal imagery at coarser resolutions.  Landsat-8, launched in 2013, and Landsat-7, launched in 1999 and since 2003 suffering from a lack of scan line corrections, are the sources of current US land imaging data.  JPL and their associates have proposed the replacing the Landsat 30 m discrete multispectral visible, near-infrared, and short wave infrared imaging with hyper-spectral imagers, patterned after HyspIRI, a JPL instrument.   

The argument hyper-spectral imager enthusiasts make for replacing a discrete band Landsat-type instrument is there is more information in hyper-spectral data, because you have so many more spectral bands.  JPL’s hyper-spectral HyspIRI instrument, scheduled for launch in 2016, has a 60 m spatial resolution, 212 spectral bands, and a 145 km swath width.  This argument never considers information theory and the fact that there is a very high correlation between adjacent spectral intervals in the visible, near infrared, and short-wave infrared regions.  This has been investigated with hyper-spectral data by Tucker and Maxwell (1976) and Tucker (1978) who found extremely high correlations between adjacent 5 nm spectral intervals in the visible and near-infrared spectral regions.  These results have been further extended by Tucker and Sellers (1986).

The “hyper-spectral conundrum” results from the trade off between the number of spectral bands, spatial resolution, radiometric accuracy, and swath width or revisit frequency.  It is difficult ir not impossible for a hyper-spectral instrument with hundreds of bands to have a 30 m spatial resolution and a short revisit frequency. 

Tucker, C.J. and E.L. Maxwell, 1976.   Sensor Design for Monitoring Vegetation Canopies. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 42(11):1399-1410.

Tucker, C. J. 1978.  A Comparison of Satellite Sensor Bands for Vegetation Monitoring. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 44(11):1169-1180.

Tucker. C.J. and P.J. Sellers, 1986. Satellite remote sensing of primary production. International Journal of Remote Sensing 7:1395-1416.

More »

Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

Share this Project

Organizational Responsibility

Project Management

Project Duration

Technology Areas

Light bulb

Suggest an Edit

Recommend changes and additions to this project record.