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Imagery and Remote Sensing

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


  • The Aerial Photo Sourcebook (Collins) 1998 (ref TR 810 C64 1998) Directory of federal, state, and commercial sources of aerial photography.

  • Aerial Photography Field Office Imagery Catalogs (US Department of Agriculture) Lists by state and then by county National Agriculture Imagery Program imagery and other imagery coverage used by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS). The catalog includes imagery dating for the 1955 to the present. Earlier photography is available from the National Archives.

  • Aerial Photography Summary Record System (APSRS) (US Geological Survey) 1996 (Docs I 19.120:Ae8 cd-rom) Database describing more than 600,000 aerial photography projects covering the United States and its territories. Includes aerial photography from federal, state, and other governmental agencies as well as commercial firms. The "APRS database" sumarizes projects by USGS 7.5 minute topographic quadrangle. Entries are sorted by project date, and describe scale, producing agency, project code, film type, cloud cover, and camera focal length. The "Contributor database" contains the name, address, and phone number of aerial photography contributors. For further information see Aerial Photography Summary Record System.

  • EarthExplorer (US Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center) Identify and download aerial photographs and satellite imagery from USGS, NASA, NOAA and other government agencies. Available aerial photography dates from 1937 to the present. 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.

  • Survey of US Federal Government Departments And Academic Institutions that Perform Archival Services or Collect Satellite Imagery Data Products (Williams and Brown) 2006


  • 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), terrain, satellite imagery, and NEXRAD color imagery. Options allow one to change coordinates (lat/long, UTM, geotags) and track coordinates.

  • Airport Photo Gallery (US National Geodetic Survey) Contains "center shot" photos of commerical and general aviation airports that support the production of FAA aeronautical charts. Covers airports that have been surveyed from 1999 to the present.

  • Coastal Aerial Photography (US National Geodetic Survey) Contains over 500,000 aerial photos taken since 1945 at scales of 1:10,000 to 1:50,000 for the coastal regions of the United States. Each location may include several flights. Some aerial photographs are available online.

  • Digital Orthophoto Quadrangles (DOQs) (US Geological Survey) computer-generated image of an aerial photograph in which the image displacement caused by terrain relief and camera tilt has been removed. The DOQ combines the image characteristics of the original photograph with the georeferenced qualities of a map. They are frequently used as the underlying data in commercial map servers. Images can be downloaded from the National Map Seamless Server or EarthExplorer.

  • Google Earth: Historical Imagery (Google) One of the data layers available for viewing in Google Earth. Coverage is mostly United States.

  • Google Maps (Google) Offers a combination of satellite and hi-res aerial imagery, the latter in more urbanized areas. Enter a location or pan and zoom to a desired location. View street maps, terrain, satellite imagery or street level photography. For 3-D views see Google Earth.

  • High Resolution Orthoimagery (US Geological Survey) Images cover the major metropolitan areas and state capitals of the United States. Orthoimages are natural color, black and white, or color infrared with a resolution of 0.3 meters to 0.75 meters, depending on the source imagery. Many commerical sites use USGS orthoimagery for their data. See the High Resolution Orthoimagery List. Images can be downloaded from the National Map Seamless Server.

  • Historic Aerials (Nationwide Environmental Title Research) Contains freely viewable aerial photography from the 1930s through the present for urban and selective other regions in the United States. Use a comparison tool to view two different flight years at once using a slider bar.

  • MSR Maps (Microsoft) (formerly TerraServer-USA) Contains a complete seamless collection of USGS digital topographic maps (digital raster graphics) for the United States. The geographic area that can be displayed on screen has three settings--small, medium, and large. Resolution of the displayed map can be adjusted from 2 meters to 128 meters. Maps can be located using four search options--address, placename, geographic coordinate, or clicking on an image map. Maps can be downloaded in .jpeg format. There are also links to USGS digital orthophotoquad images and natural color relief maps which cover the same geographic area.

  • OpenTopography: a Portal to High-Resolution Topographic Data and Tools Collection of high resolution topographic data available in a range of formats depending upon who acquired the data and what product types were delivered. The classes of data types available include: standard digital elevation models (DEMs), LiDAR point cloud data, and Google Earth files.

  • Satellite Images of US Cities - Landsat GeoCover (Geology.com) Images are compiled using NASA's GeoCover data collected in 1999.

  • 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.