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Old September 29th, 2009, 01:39 PM   #1
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Finding free satellite images

I know that Google and Microsoft have good satellite image tools but I recall stumbling upon a US government site that had a reasonable equivalent. As I recollect, it was either NOAA or NASA that put it up.

I've searched both of those along with USGS and come up empty.

Does anyone know the site/service I'm talking about?

TIA
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Old September 29th, 2009, 04:53 PM   #2
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Exactly what are you looking for? When I'm not working or doing video, I make my own maps for use in GPS'es. Most states have a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) website which offers free download of very high resolution imagery. In my state (NJ) for example, you can download imagery at the resolution of 1 foot per pixel (Google imagery used to be more like 1 meter/pixel IIRC).

You will need the right kind of software to use data you download from these sites and there are freeware, shareware and professional solutions. Globalmapper is really terrific program for working with this kind of thing, it will do 3d views and can open almost any kind of map file. You can use the free demo to open and view files but not export them: GIS Mapping Software - GPS Mapping Software - Satellite Maps - Aerial Photos [Global Mapper]

If you can't find what you want at a website in your own state, the National Map Seamless Server is another place to go. The user interface isn't so great and it's somewhat slow to download, but there's a wealth of information there: The National Map Seamless Server

If you are looking for something specific, I may be able to point you in the right direction.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 05:09 PM   #3
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NASA World Wind

I haven't used it in a couple years and from a quick look at the web site it looks like software updates stopped around that time as well. Don't know if it'll suit your needs or not but it is free so no harm in giving it a try.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 06:33 PM   #4
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Depending on what you want, that may be a good solution Pete. But Landsat and Shuttle imagery is very low resolution. It would be good for a high altitude view of a mountain range for example, but not for showing individual houses and trees.

The USGS has been updating their DEM (digital elevation model) data with some very high resolution stuff in certain areas. This data can be displayed as shaded relief, and you can use Globalmapper to "drape" aerial imagery over the elevation data to create very detailed 3d images (like Google Earth, but better).

We are really fortunate to have a number of public agencies like NASA, USGS and the states offering so much for free. We're the envy of people in other countries where you have to purchase data of this quality. Given the current economic climate with the Fed and the states hurting for revenue, I have to wonder how long the "free lunch" will last...
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Old September 30th, 2009, 08:06 AM   #5
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Pete... That's what I was trying to remember.

Boyd... Thanks for the list of other resources. I'll look into all the links and see which one works best for the project.

I would disagree that we are getting this for free since it's our tax dollars that pay for it in the first place. We are fortunate that we don't have to pay for it twice. It could happen though. There was a significant move in congress about three years ago to privatize and charge for some of the information now provided for free from NOAA and the National Weather Service. Fortunately nothing, as yet, has come if it.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 02:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tripp Woelfel View Post
I would disagree that we are getting this for free since it's our tax dollars that pay for it in the first place.
Of course you're right... but you know what I mean. Some genius in congress is bound to ask why the USGS doesn't charge for downloads....
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