Landsat Bands

Landsat 8 compared to Landsat 7 and the earlier Landsats and the ESA's Sentinel-2.  The gray shows the transmission bands, with the absorption bands in white.
In terms of the energy, the TIR bands on the right have only a small fraction of the energy compared to the VIS and NIR (this graph shows the albedo).

The energy available for the satellite is function of the area under the curve of incoming energy versus wavelength.  The wider the band (the more frequencies used), the incoming energy (highest in the visible, lowest in the TIR), the easier it is to record.

Most of the Landsat bands are in atmospheric windows, which have a high transmission and allow energy to pass through the atmosphere.  The one exception is band 9 on Landsat 8's OLI, which is located in an absorption band.  These occur where gases in the atmosphere absorb radiation of a particular wavelength, and are used to track changes in the atmosphere; band 9 is designed to pick up cirrus clouds.

Nice discussion of Landsat 8 bands, individually and as 3 band color combinations:

Landsat 7 was very similar to the Landsat 4 and 5 (and 6 if it had achieved orbit) multispectral bands.

Landsat history.

Comparison with Sentinel-2 bands

Last revision 9/16/2019