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Multispectral Pixel Saturation Mask

Last updated: October 7, 2021

Example imagery

This example shows a visual (RGB) WorldView-2 image, taken over Valais Canton, Southern Switzerland. The image on the left is the ARD tile. The image on the right shows the saturated pixels, highlighted in red.

ms pixel saturation before and after

Left: ARD image of snow-covered mountains. Right: pixel saturation mask overlaid on the ARD image.


Highly reflective features such as cloud tops, snow/ice cover, and bright rooftops can overwhelm sensor detectors beyond their capability to register an accurate charge. This is referred to as a saturation state. Pixels determined to be saturated are captured within the multispectral pixel saturation mask.

Pixel saturation is detected in 4 or 8 band multispectral images. Saturation is detected in the multispectral imagery at native resolution (as-collected GSD).

An ARD order delivery includes a raster GeoTiff mask and a vector GeoPackage mask. The vector mask is derived from the raster mask.

Mask title File name File type Description
Multispectral Pixel Saturation Mask {acquisitionID}-ms-saturation.tif Raster Detects saturated pixels in multispectral images.
MS Pixel Saturation Polygons {acquisitionID}-ms-saturation-mask.gpkg Vector Traces the boundaries of saturated pixels.

How to read the mask data

The mask is binary with 1 (True) indicating the presence of saturated pixels and 0 (False) indicated no pixel saturation detected.


Pixel saturation is identified by pre-determined thresholds in the RGB bands where they are known to start to saturate. Saturation can affect each band separately; it does not have to be bright across all bands (i.e., white in color) to saturate a multispectral sensor.

Use case examples

Saturated pixels do not provide an accurate reading of surface reflectance. These pixels should be excluded from further user-based analyses that require accurate reflectance values. This mask provides the ARD data user a convenient tool for excluding such pixels.

Known issues

The multispectral saturation mask is not intended for use with panchromatic single-band imagery.

Additional resources

About ARD Order Deliveries

Order Delivery File Path

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