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Other multispectral imagery sources

An overview of some other easily available multispectral imagery.

Landsat 8 & 9 aren’t the only sources of multispectral imagery that you can download and use for free. In this section we will give you a quick summary of a few other sources of imagery.


Sentinel-2 is also multispectral. In fact, you downloaded some of this imagery in Week 2! We only used the processed red, green and blue bands, but we downloaded all the others as well. You can find your Sentinel-2 files and make false colour composites in a similar way to that described above. Just be aware that the Sentinel-2 bands are arranged in different folders by their spatial resolution, so you may have to look in a few folders to find them all and add them to QGIS.

Sentinel-2 folder screenshot You may have to look in these three folders to find all your Sentinel-2 bands!

Also remember that the bands have different numbers to Landsat 8 & 9, so you will need to adjust them accordingly. However, Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8 & 9 only go back to 2016 and 2013 respectively, so if you want to find older data, you will need other sources.

Landsat 1-7

You can also download earlier Landsat data from EarthExplorer. Earlier Landsat satellites used different bands, so again you will have to adjust your band combination numbers for this. This data is especially useful if you want to compare imagery over long periods of time, as the entire Landsat 1-9 collection goes back fifty years. In many parts of the world the landscape has changed a lot since the 1970s, so older imager may help us to locate features that have disappeared or have become hard to identify using present-day imagery because of changes in land cover or usage.

Landsat 1-9 bands diagram Bands for all Landsat satellites – Landsat 4 and Landsat 5 had two different imaging sensors onboard, which is why they appear twice in this diagram. Based on an image courtesy of NASA.

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