I am mapping mangrove areas over time (from 2003 to 2014 ) and thus use different Landsat imagery. Band combinations Iuse and am satisfied with in Landsat 7 include band:


When using Landsat 5 or 8 these combinations look completely different. Do I need, and if so, how to convert the bands when using a different Landsat?

3 Answers 3


The full details can be found on the USGS FAQ. Here is a short answer.

Band numbers in Landsat 5 TM and Landsat 7 ETM+ correspond with the same wavelength (approximately). Unfortunately, ​Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) operational imaging ended in November 2011. Landsat 5 MSS was powered back on in 2012 and collected data until January 2013. However, there are less bands on Landsat 5 MSS: you will not find the equivalent to Landsat ETM+ bands number 1, 5, 6 and 7 on the Landsat MSS 5 sensor.

Landsat 7 | Landsat 8 | Landsat 5 MSS

1 | 2

2 | 3 | 1

3 | 4 | 2

4 | 5 (both are NIR bands, but narrower band with OLI (landsat 8) than with ETM+) | (3)4

5 | 6

6 | split in 10 and 11 (note that TIRS failed after december 18, 2014 on Landsat 8. EDIT: As mentioned by @Kersten, nominal TIRS acquisition resumed March 7, 2015 and data should be available again around mid-May 2015)

7 | 7


This has to do with the fact that the bands with the same number in different Landsat sensors can correspond to different spectral ranges. So, if you are attempting to display Landsat 5 or 8 imagery with the same band combination like your Landsat 7 imagery, then this will not work as some of the bands, despite their same number, cover different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

There is a good comparison on this USGS page. Just find what wavelengths your initial combination used, and then match those up with the bands of Landsat 5 and 8.

Then your images will look like you want them to.


A brief guide how to convert them has been given above but I would also suggest doing so via landviewer. There’s a built-in tool that lets you combine multiple bands and configure them and compare the images with ease. In addition, there are already ready-made tools for obtaining multispectral indices, flexible processing of data on AOI, elementary clustering, using a raster calculator, visualization of scenes in 3D using digital elevation models, changes in territories based on multi-temporal multispectral analysis, as well as creating ready-made animations of changes in terrain.

Here’s a brief guide to free satellite data that can be found on LandViewer:

  • Landsat 4 - archive 1982-1993
  • Landsat 5 - archive 1984-2013
  • Landsat 7 - archive since 1999
  • MODIS - archive since 2012
  • Landsat 8 - archive since 2013
  • Sentinel-1 - archive since 2014
  • Sentinel-2 - archive since 2015

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