Remote Sensing Resources

What is Remote Sensing?

Remote Sensing is the art and science of identifying, observing, and measuring an object, area, or phenomenon without coming into direct contact with it. Remote sensing allows us to observe the Earth with sensors or satellites from high above its surface. Many of these sensors are like cameras, however they collect not only visible light but also other bands of the electromagnetic spectrum such as infrared, radar and ultraviolet light. Using the resources below, you can download remote sensing data including: aerial photography, multispectral data, hyperspectral data, satellite imagery, digital elevation data, and more. Please contact us if you require assistance locating or using remote sensing data.

See NASA Earth Observatory’s introduction and history of remote sensing for more exciting details.

Some Remote Sensing Resources:

USGS Earth Explorer                                                                                           

Earth Explorer provides online search, browse display, metadata export, and data download for earth science data from the archives of the USGS. The Earth Explorer interface allows users to search and download aerial photography, satellite data, elevation data, land-cover products, and digitized maps. The majority of the data are available for download at no cost. Note: User must register and create an account (the same account can be used with GloVis). Click here for a list of data products.

USGS Global Visualization Viewer (GloVis)                                                                     

GloVis is an online search and order tool for selected satellite and aerial data. Through a graphic map display, the user can select any area of interest and immediately view all available  images within the USGS inventory for the specified location. From the browse image viewer page, the user may either navigate to view adjacent scene locations or select a new area of interest. A downloading interface is provided for datasets that are available at no cost. Note: User must register and create an account (the same account can be used with Earth Explorer). Click here for a list of data products.

Global Data Explorer (GDEx)

GDEx data access interface is the result of collaboration between the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center and George Mason University's Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems. This GDEx tool allows users to browse and download data based on geographic areas of interest or predefined regions, including state, province, and county (for the United States). The majority of the data are available for download at no cost. Click here for a list of data products. Note: Users are required to register for a NASA User Registration System (URS) account to download data (the same account can be used for NASA’s Reverb).

USGS Data Pool

The Data Pool is the publicly available portion of the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center online holdings. It offers FTP access to selected data products. It offers ASTER data covering the US and its territories and global MODIS data. All data are available at no cost.

Reverb                                                                                                                

NASA's Reverb is an interface to search, discover, and access EOS data products, and invoke available data services. Reverb searches against the ECHO metadata clearinghouse which facilitates all data discovery and order processing capabilities. The majority of the data are available for download at no cost. Note: Users are required to register for a NASA User Registration System (URS) account to download data (the same account can be used for GDEx).

Global Change Master Directory (GCMD)                                          

The Global Change Master Directory is an extensive directory of descriptive and locational information about data sets and services relevant to global change research. The project mission is to assist researchers, policy makers, and the public in the discovery of and access to data, related services, and ancillary information (which includes descriptions of instruments and platforms) relevant to global change and Earth science research.  The majority of the data are available for download at no cost.

GeoGratis                                                                        

GeoGratis combines the former GeoPub, Mirage, and GeoGratis collections into a one-stop gateway to search, discover and download over 180 000 maps, data, and publications. The collection includes satellite imagery, Canada Center for Remote Sensing Articles, as well as other vector and topographic data. The majority of the data are available for download at no cost. Click here for a tutorial explaining how to search GeoGratis.

USGS Land Remote Sensing Program                            

The Land Remote Sensing Program provides the Federal Government and the public with a primary source of remotely sensed data and applications. Products and data available include aerial photography, digitized maps, elevation products, land cover, and satellite imagery. The majority of the data are available for download at no cost except for higher resolution film scans.

National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC)                                 

The NSIDC supports research into our world's frozen realms: the snow, ice, glaciers, frozen ground, and climate interactions that make up Earth's cryosphere. All data are available at no cost. Click here for a list of data products.

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)

MODIS is an instrument aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites. Both satellites view the entire Earth's surface every 1 to 2 days acquiring data in 36 spectral bands at three spatial resolutions (250m, 500m, and 1,000m) describing features of the land, oceans and the atmosphere. The majority of the data are available for download at no cost. Click here for a list of data products.

Hazards Data Distribution System (HDDS)                                                 

The USGS Emergency Operations, in support of the Department of Homeland Security, provides these images for use in disaster preparations, rescue and relief operations, damage assessments, and reconstruction efforts. HDDS supplies satellite and aerial images for analysis of disaster areas before, during, and after a disaster.  Access disaster response imagery in predefined tiled downloads. The majority of the data are available for download at no cost.

USGS LandsatLook Viewer

LandsatLook Viewer allows searching and downloading of LandsatLook Images. LandsatLook Images are full resolution .jpg files that are included as options when downloading Landsat data from EarthExplorer or GloVis. Images are useful for image selection and visual interpretation. The majority of the data are available for download at no cost. Click here for a list of data products.

GeoBase                                                                                                                                             

GeoBase is a federal, provincial and territorial government initiative that is overseen by the Canadian Council on Geomatics (CCOG). Through the GeoBase portal, users with an interest in the field of geomatics have access to quality geospatial information at no cost and with unrestricted use. Data includes: satellite imagery, land cover data, digital elevation data, administrative boundaries, etc. All datasets are available at no cost. Click here for a list of data products.

Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN)                                                                          

Discover, publish, and acquire geospatial data for areas within the Great Lakes region. The GLIN has a portal for viewing and exploring the Great Lakes and associated data layers, a data portal through which GIS and geospatial data for the Great Lakes can be published and acquired, and a gallery of downloadable images depicting Great Lakes geophysical data. The majority of the data are available for download at no cost.

Canadian GeoConnections Discovery Portal                                                    

The Discovery Portal enables GIS users, developers and data suppliers to find, evaluate, access, visualize, and publish Canadian geospatial and geoscience data products and Web services. Some examples of geospatial and geoscience data accessible through the GeoConnections Discovery Portal include: air photos, topographic data, remote sensing images, tabular statistics, and thematic map layers. The majority of the data are available for download at no cost.

Other Canadian Regional Portals:  GeoBC, GeoDiscover Alberta, GeoNov, GeoSask, Northwest Territories Center for Geomatics, Geomatics Yukon

Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER)

ASTER is an on-demand instrument. This means that data is only acquired over a location if a request has been submitted to observe that area. Some datasets are available for download at no cost. Click here for a list of data products.

Visible Earth                                                                                                      

A catalogue of NASA images and animations of our home planet. Most images here are freely available for re-use except where copyright is indicated. You can browse images by Sensor, Collection, or Topic. The majority of the data are available for download at no cost.

USGS Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS)

The EROS Data Center is home to the U.S. National Satellite Land Remote Sensing Data Archive. The EROS Data Center is managed by the USGS and provides several tools for data discovery including: the USGS Global Visualization Viewer, Earth Explorer, EOS Data, etc. The majority of the data are available for download at no cost.

NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS)

NASA’s EOS is a coordinated series of polar-orbiting and low inclination satellites for long-term global observations of the land surface, biosphere, solid Earth, atmosphere, and oceans. The majority of the data are available for download at no cost.