The Documentalist

Satellite Image Archives

Posted in Archiving Solutions, Reviews by Sarah on January 21, 2010

From satellites to archived files. Image courtesy of Integral Systems

The last couple of posts have dealt with the technology of satellite imagery and how this imagery can serve human rights.  However, of more interest to some might be the archiving of satellite images.  After all, the benefit of satellite imagery for human rights work is predicated on access to “before” and “after” images that illustrate physical destruction of villages or farms in the wake of human rights atrocities–the before images perforce come from past images that organizations acquire from archives of stored and cataloged materials collected by various geo-spatial imaging companies’ satellites.

Because satellite imaging companies are for-profit, information about their archiving practices is fairly limited, but some information is available on-line and is summarized below for three large imaging firms: GeoEye, ImageSat International, and Digital Globe.  These companies have each provided images to human rights organizations or to researchers investigating human rights events, either as donations or through purchase arrangements.


GeoEye maintains an archive of satellite images and a suite of services for accessing them.  These services are available through their GeoFUSE program, described as follows:

GeoEye’s Imagery Sources collect vast amounts of high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery from around the globe each day. This imagery is processed and used in a multitude of applications such as mapping, disaster response, infrastructure management, and environmental monitoring. Now, with GeoEye’s new suite of Search & Discovery tools, our customers can browse the GeoEye image catalog archives, quickly and easily locating and previewing imagery for their specific needs. Using the information obtained through use of these tools, our customers can easily communicate the information necessary to place orders for imagery products that meet their project requirements.

Access services include: Online Maps, Google Earth Tools, Online Resource Center, Advanced Search Options, Toolbar for ArcMaps (a desk top GIS application), Help & Documentaiton, and Image search (Resourcesat-1 catalogs).  Some preliminary searching can be done through these tools at the website and selected preview images can be stored in a personal file at the GeoEye Webpage for reference and purchase. GeoEye also offers imagery for free to academics, human rights organizations, and other non-profits through the GeoEye Foundation.

ImageSat International.

ImageSat has an archive, but little information about it is available online.  The Website states:

ImageSat maintains an imagery archive, which contains all imaged EROS A data, including that which is down-linked by the ground control stations in ImageSat’s Global Network. Customers may purchase this imagery at preferred prices. To enquire about purchasing imagery from the ImageSat Imagery Archive, contact our Order Desk or call us at +972-3-7960627.

There are sample images available through the gallery, but there does not appear to be a means of searching preview images as there is at GeoEye’s website.  The page requests that you call for information.

Digital Globe

Digital Globe also maintains an archive of their satellite imagery, which you can learn more about by contacting them directly at the following:

Please Contact Customer Service for information on searching The DigitalGlobe Archive

Toll Free: 800.496.1225 or
Phone: 303.684.4561
Fax: 303.684.4562

Currently, Digital Globe is offering free imagery for coverage of the Haiti crisis, which is available on their gallery page. Click on the “Free Access to Haiti Imagery” button and you will be taken to an order form for imagery requests.  They also offer an on-line image search feature that allows site visitors to sample the imagery in the archive according to region of the world.  An interactive map leads visitors through the preview process.  Standard imagery is available upon request:

Standard Imagery can be acquired directly from the DigitalGlobe archive or you can submit a new collection request. Standard Imagery is ordered by area, with a minimum purchase of 25 km2 (~10 mi2) for archive orders. For tasking, the minimum area for ordering is 25 km2 (~10 mi2), but minimum pricing rules apply, depending on the tasking level selected. If your order crosses more than one strip, one standard imagery product per scene is delivered.

Products are delivered on your choice of standard digital media with Image Support Data files including image metadata.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: