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Operational Linescan System (OLS)

NSSDCA ID: 2003-048A-01

Mission Name: DMSP 5D-3/F16


The OLS instrument consists of two telescopes (visible 0.40 - 1.10 um and infrared 10.0 - 13.4 um) and a photo multiplier tube (PMT, 0.47 - 0.95 um). The detectors sweep back and forth in a "whisk broom" or pendulum-type motion. The instruments are built by Westinghouse Corporation. OLS imagery is used to monitor the global distribution of clouds and cloud top temperatures twice each day. Infrared pixel values correspond to a temperature range of 190 to 310 Kelvins in 256 equally spaced steps. Onboard calibration is performed during each scan. OLS records visible and near-Infrared emissions from the sun or the moon reflected off clouds and other features. OLS thermal infrared data record thermal emissions by the Earth's surface and atmosphere. OLS imagery are the primary input to the AFWA's cloud analysis program. In addition, nighttime imagery record the aurora, city lights, manmade and natural fires and natural gas flaring. NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center maintains the data archive at

Alternate Names

  • DMSP5D-3/F16/OperationalLinescanSystem_OLS_

Funding Agency

  • Department of Defense (United States)


  • Earth Science: Atmospheric Dynamics
  • Earth Science: Land Surface Processes
  • Earth Science: Physical Oceanography

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. Dieter K. Bilitza



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