Every day, the Landsat 8 satellite captures nearly 550 scenes of the Earth, each of which measures roughly 180 square kilometers. At worst, it’s an impressive selfie. At best, it’s a tool for learning about the dynamic processes and characteristics of our planet. If you're just getting started with working with Landsat data or would like to learn more, check out our guide.
As you pan around, you'll notice that scenes are grouped into sets of dates. Each set is defined by a unique path and row, which represents a specific region regularly captured by Landsat. There's a significant amount of overlap between regions, which is why you'll occasionally see multiple sets. ℹ
Within each path and row you'll see multiple dates listed. The combinatoin of a path and row and date are referred to as scenes. Because Landsat 8 always captures images at the same locations, you can see how the Earth is changing over time. ℹ Typically, scenes with less cloud cover are more useful.
Landsat data is annotated using the The Worldwide Reference System (WRS). The WRS specifies the central location of every image with a path and row. The path references the orbital track of the satellite. The row references latitude.
Landsat 8 uses WRS-2, first created for Landsat 4. It divides the Earth into 233 paths and 248 rows.
Landsat 8 passes over the same spot on Earth at the same time, because it maintains a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit.
Fundamentally, this means there is consistent lighting every time an image is acquired for a particular location. For the whole story, see the Landsat handbook.