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Visualizing Land Cover Reflectances

Landsat image of eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Jump to: [what to do]

Your measured reflectances from different land surface covers may be used to create a key of the colors seen in the most common of version of Landsat color images (see example on right).

Remember, Landsat measures 7 wavelengths of light, and your computer displays only 3 colors. This means there are 210 ways to view 3 unique Landsat wavelength measurements on the computer. Some nice person created only a few color standards to make it easier to share images with others.

Landsat image of eastern 
Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Measured Reflected Light
Displayed on Computer Screen
Near Infrared
Red Light
Green Light

What to Do...

  1. Write your reflectance measurements into the table below, or use relative magnitudes of reflectance (such as low, medium, high).

  2. Use the table of the color convention for displaying Landsat data above, to predict what colors these surface materialls will appear in the satellite image.

  3. If you are not familiar with how to make colors on a computer screen, see the Color Investigations.

  4. If you aren't familiar with digital images, visit the Digital Images Investigations.

Surface Material
Intensity of Reflected Light
Displayed Color in Standard Landsat Image
Vegetation / Plants
Snow / Clouds

Check your predictions.