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Satellite imagery

This guide is designed to provide information about access to satellite imagery and how to get support in the use of this imagery through the Stanford Geospatial Center.  

Satellite Imagery Analysis

Earth observing satellite platforms are an increasingly important source of data for analysis and monitoring. The analysis of this type of data can be used for semantic mapping (identification of specific "feature types," such as houses and roads), landuse classification, changes through time and more. This topic guide provides a starting point for Stanford researchers to explore the myriad options for obtaining, managing and analyzing satellite imagery as part of their research. imagery

Planet is the leader in the current "small sat" revolution in Earth imaging. With a growing constellation of 200+ "Doves," Planet is able to image the Earth's landmass at 3m pixel resolution, once every day. This high cadence, medium-high resolution imagery is well suited to monitoring applications, semantic segmentation and traditional remote sensing applications. 

The Stanford Geospatial Center manages Stanford's Enterprise account, which provides access to Planet's PlanetScope, RapidEye and monthly/quarterly composite basemap services. Access is intended for small research projects, and primarily intended for student's use in research and coursework. 

Stanford researchers may request access to the Planet Enterprise Account by submitting this form: Stanford Enterprise Account Access Request Form

For more information about Planet and their "daily image of the Earth" see

Planet Imagery Product Specifications: Training & Other Materials:  

Digital Globe imagery

With over a decade of high resolution (<.5m per pixel) multispectral imagery, DigitalGlobe is a major player in the commercial Earth observation industry. 

The rebranding of DigitalGlobe as Maxar Technologies, and the shuttering of The DigitalGlobe Foundation's 10 year program to provide high resolution satellite imagery for research and teaching, has left the Maxar/DigitalGlobe Open Data Program as the last free venue for obtaining the company's high resolution imagery for research and teaching. Since the 2010 Haiti earthquake, DigitalGlobe has been making pre- and post-event imagery available for the use of the disater response community. Users familiar with the humanitarian OpenStreetMap Task Manager and the disaster response work coordinated there will have seen this program in action. That imagery is still relevant (perhaps more so with the amount of ground-truthing that has been performed post-event for most of these datasets) for research use, particularly in resilience and disaster response studies. You can find the archive here:

Landsat data

Landsat data is available for free through the USGS EarthExplorer.  EarthExplorer uses a search interface to narrow the geographic extent and date range for your area of interest.  Registered users may save search criteria, download data, and access subscription services.  A tutorial is available here

Google Earth Engine

Google Earth Engine combines a multi-petabyte catalog of satellite imagery and geospatial datasets with planetary-scale analysis capabilities and makes it available for scientists, researchers, and developers to detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth's surface.  Access is currently entirely open and free for research and teaching use.  All you need is a Gmail account. 

The Google Earth Engine Data Catalog provides a list of the many public domain climate, weather, imagery and geophysical datasets directly available for use in Google Earth Engine, and includes a great deal of information in the specifications and utility of each of those data sources.

Excellent "Getting Started" materials and tutorials may be found here:

There are also a number of resources specific to using Google Earth Engine in curriculum: