Learn more about how the Cal Poly Humboldt Library can help
support your research and learning needs.

Stay updated at Campus Ready.

Skip to Main Content

Imagery and Remote Sensing

The content of this guide was created by Bob Sathrum, retired 6/2013


  • Alexandria Digital Library (University of California, Santa Barbara Map and Imagery Laboratory) Catalog contains metadata for 2 million remote sensing images and 500,000 aerial photographs. Search by geographic location using either an interactive map or direct input of geographic coordinates, keyword, type of resource, and format. Coverage is worldwide but emphasis is on southern California.
  • EarthExplorer (US Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center) Identify and download aerial photographs and satellite imagery from USGS, NASA and NOAA. Some datasets are worldwide and some are limited to the United States. Determine spatial coverage by defining coverage on a map, entering geographic coordinates, or entering a place name.
  • Global Change Master Directory (NASA) Directory of data sets and services relevant to global change research. Contains metabata descriptions for more than 25,000 datasets and data services from over 1200 government agencies, research institutions, archives and universities worldwide. Includes over 2000 imagery datasets
  • Global Visualization Viewer (US Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center) Search and order tool for selected satellite inagery. Using a graphic map display, one can select any area of interest and immediately view all available browse images within the USGS inventory for the specified location.
  • NASA Image eXchange (NIX) (NASA) Search engine that simultaneously searches one or more of NASA's databases that contain over 450,000 online images and photos. Search by keyword or browse to find pre-selected images that are considered to be the "best of..." for a specific topic. The NIX site also provides links to 2.6 million online images that are found in other NASA's Imagery Collections that are not indexed with the basic search engine. These collections are grouped by broad topic.
  • National Air Photo Library (Natural Resources, Canada) Contains metadata for over 3 million Canadian air photos dating back to 1935. Search by place name, geographical coordinate, National Topographic System map number, or Roll and Photo number. Requires free online registration.
  • SIRIUS: SPOT Image Online Catalogue (Spot Image) Catalog of over 8 million images taken by French SPOT satellites. Search by placename, interactive map or geographic coordinates. Limit by date and other technical criteria. Each image include a thumbnail image. Requires free registration to search the catalog.
  • Warehouse Inventory Search Tool (WIST) (NASA Earth Science Data and Information System) Gateway for searching and ordering Earth science data from NASA's Earth Observation System Data Information System and Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs). Included in the gateway are earth, ocean, and atmospheric science data obtained from EOS instruments such as MODIS and MISR, as well as other satellites such as Landsat and TRMM.




  • ACME Mapper (AMCE Laboratories) Use a Google Maps interface to navigate to a location anywhere in the world, or enter an location name (US street address or zip code, city name anywhere in the world or latitude/longitude. Display options include a street map, topographic maps (US only), aerial photography (US only), satellite imagery, and NEXRAD color imagery.

  • Bing Maps (Microsoft) Interactive mapper allows one to zoom to any location on the Earth and display satellite imagery and for selective areas detailed aerial photography and bird's eye views. One can also download and install a 3D viewer. See Bing Maps Blog for "mashup" and other API developments.

  • Earth as Art: A Landsat Perspective (Library of Congress Geography and Map Division) Exhibition that showcases Landsat 7 images which have been selected for aesthetic rather than scientific value.

  • Earth as Art 1 , Earth as Art 2 and Earth as Art 3 (USGS Earth Resource Observation and Science--EROS) Collection of "beautiful sights or images that stir the imagination."

  • Earth Snapshot (EOSnap): a Daily View of the Planet (Chelys) Provides a daily "photorealistic image" generated from satellite data that highlights environmental and cultural features of the earth. Images are categorized and searchable.

  • Earthshots: Satellite Images of Environmental Change (US Geological Survey) Landsat imagery and associated descriptive text that shows examples of environmental change over time in the areas of agriculture, forestry, urban change, deserts, human and natural disasters, geology, water and wildlife.

  • Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth (NASA) Database containing over 1 million images of the earth and spaceflight shot by NASA astronauts since 1961. Search using a clickable map, geographic region, mission, photo number and other parameters. Also includes several special collections of outstanding photos of Cities, Mission Highlights and Earth from Space: a Dataset of Selected Astronaut-acquired Imagery of the Earth.

    Geomorphology from Space: a Global View of Regional Landforms (Short and Blair) 1986 (print copy available in Docs NAS 1.21:486) Consists of 237 plates treating geographic regions where particular landform themes are exemplified. Commentary, photographs, and locator maps accompany each plate.

  • Global Land Cover Facility (University of Maryland) Includes free downloadable satellite images of the Earth. Image datasets includes Landsat, MODIS, ASTER, STRM and other imagery. Images can be viewed online in jpeg format and downloaded in geotiff format. The Earth Science Data Interface allows you to find images by location using a map interface, Landsat row/path or product attribute.

  • Google Earth (Google) Downloadable program from Google that streams data layers over the Internet. The base layer is detailed 3-D satellite imagery for most locations throughout the world. For further information see How Google Earth

  • Works (HowStuffWorks). There are many .kml thematic layers developed by individuals that can be added to the basic Google Earth program. See Google Earth Gallery and Google Earth Blog for some of the available thematic layers.

  • Google Maps (Google) The basic view includes road maps, satellite imagery and terrain maps for the world. In addition there is detailed street view imagery and traffic information for selected metropolitan areas in the United States. The

  • Google Maps Mania blog tracks "mashups" web sites that add additional information to Google Maps.

    Imagery (ESRI) Presents low-resolution satellite imagery for the world and high-resolution (1m or better) imagery for the United States and selected other areas. Imagery can be viewed with the default ArcGIS map viewer or ArcGIS Explorer.

  • MapMachine (National Geographic Society) Interactive mapper allows one to zoom to any location on the Earth and display satellite imagery and for selective areas detailed aerial photography and bird's eye views. One can also download and install a 3D viewer.

  • Operational Significant Event Imagery (NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service) Contains high-resolution, detailed remote sensing imagery of significant environmental events, including dust storms, fires, floods, volcanoes, severe weather, snow cover, and tropical cyclones,

  • TerraFly (Florida International University High Performance Database Research Center) Searchable database that contains one-meter resolution USGS color digital orthophotoquads for the United States. Use the navigation wheel to "fly over" over the earth's surface as if traveling in an airplane. Click on a location and retrieve information on demography, crime, current weather, environmental pollution, natural hazards, schools, hotels and home sales. Search the database using a placename, address, or zip code.

  • Terraserver Contains commercial aerial photography and satellite imagery covering the entire world. Available resolution varies depending upon location as well as type of imagery--color, infrared, B/W, and orthophoto. Highest resolution available for purchase is one foot. Highest resolution available for free on the Internet is eight meter. Imagery is provided by GlobeXplorer, DigitalGlobe, LandVoyage, i-cubed, EarthSat, and Pixxures. Search by geographic coordinates or city for the entire world; or by zip code, county or address for the United States.

  • Visible Earth: A Searchable Directory of Images, Visualizations, and Animations of the Earth (NASA) Provides access to over 1400 different satellite images of the earth. Categories include physical features, human impacts, types of sensors, and geographic locations.

  • World Wind (US National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Free downloadable program from NASA interacts over the Internet to provide detailed 3-D satellite images for locations throughout the world. High resolution Landsat imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data are the core imagery. NASA Blue Marble, MODIS and GLOBE imagery; and USGS topographic maps, 1-meter imagery of the US and .25 meter imagery for major US urban areas are also available. Data layers for geographic coordinates, place names and country borders can be toggled on and off. The Web Manual provides an explanation for using World Wind and introduces the different data sets available.

  • WorldWind Central provides useful help, a wiki and interesting images that users have found. Currently the program is not supported on the Macintosh OS.