A satellite image of the Earth is an image obtained using a satellite orbiting in space. To capture satellite images, satellites are equipped with special cameras that capture images of the Earth's surface. The captured images are then transmitted to Earth and processed using computer programs to create digital maps. Satellite images can be used for various purposes such as cartography, geology, ecology, geodesy, agriculture, meteorology, and other scientific fields. They can also be used for defense and security purposes, including monitoring territories, border control, and detecting changes on the Earth's surface, such as natural disasters, land use changes, or population growth. Satellite images are also used in various industries, including construction, mineral resource extraction, and transportation.

Space imaging has become more accessible in recent times, and some data can be freely found on the internet. Free satellite images are widely used not only in educational and scientific circles but also in the commercial sector. Free Earth remote sensing data (ERSD) includes satellite images with spatial resolutions worse than 10 meters, for example, data from satellite programs like Sentinel and Landsat.

Many people are still unaware of where to find free satellite images. We present to you a list of services where anyone can access the necessary satellite images.

Important: As a rule, high and very high spatial resolution images are not available for free. Such satellite images are distributed by space mission operators on a commercial basis through their distributors (partners). INNOTER Geospatial Agency has partnership agreements with most space mission operators and is ready to assist in selecting satellite images that meet the requirements determined by the nature of your tasks.

What you see on Google Maps, Yandex Maps, Bing Maps are not full-fledged satellite images but pictures. These pictures do not have legal force, and they cannot be processed. The original satellite image with all metadata is required. For commercial use of a satellite image, a non-exclusive license from the space mission operator is also required (see usage restrictions for each satellite separately).  

In the map backgrounds of Google Maps, Yandex Maps, Bing Maps, satellite images with a spatial resolution of 0.5 meters per pixel are usually used as a base for urban areas. Free images on the Internet have resolutions ranging from 8 to 10 meters per pixel.

Free satellite images have become one of the most interesting and accessible ways to explore the world and its history. Over the past 20-30 years, there has been tremendous progress in this field, allowing us to take a big step in understanding our planet and the universe as a whole. Google Earth, a new authoritative source of information about everything in the world, allows us to see the largest objects and places on Earth and in space.

Photography is a simple response to our need to see and remember the world around us. Greater access to satellite images gives us the opportunity to discover new places and add more interesting stories to our home archive. A cosmic view of a city or planet can change our perception of time and space.

Russia also provides good opportunities for obtaining satellite images, allowing us to see beautiful landscapes and objects that are not always accessible to ordinary people. For example, with the help of satellite images, you can see the largest cities in Russia from a bird's eye view.

Interesting fact: the largest planet in our solar system is Jupiter. But even Jupiter seems small in satellite images of Earth, where you can see the entire planet in one frame.

Satellite images allow us to see our world from a different perspective, providing an opportunity to learn more about our planet and the universe. Each photograph is a new object for exploration and understanding, and every author can add their own story to it.

To solve practical tasks (processing), you need the original satellite images with all accompanying information (metadata), broken down by spectral channels, etc.

Determining the requirements for satellite images to solve your specific task requires special knowledge. Consult professionals for guidance.

To obtain current information on the availability of satellite images with very high and high spatial resolution and their selection for the area of your interest, please send a technical assignment or coordinates of the area to the email: innoter@innoter.com. For consultations, please contact by phone: +7 (495) 245-04-24.


U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Possesses the oldest and largest archive of free spatial data. Access to it can be obtained using the EarthExplorer service. The service provides access to data from USGS-NASA satellites, as well as open data from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the European Space Agency (ESA). There are also archive images from high-resolution commercial satellites IKONOS-2, OrbView-3, and Spot. They have incomplete coverage and a very limited period and are more suitable for educational purposes. In the service, data can be filtered by date, cloud cover percentage, and the number of sensors, and data can be downloaded directly from the site with processing levels of Level-1, 2, 3. USGS also has an additional portal for downloading materials called GloVis
Pros: No limit on the number of downloads
Cons: No high and very high spatial resolution images; non-specialists may have difficulty downloading images

Several other U.S. government portals have similar functionality with similar sets of open data:

NASA portal for scientific research

Another U.S. Geological Survey portal

Portal that aggregates data from the entire Sentinel group, which also includes other free data (Landsat, MODIS, etc.).  

European Space Agency portal which also provides access to Sentinel group data.  

Google Earth

Open Google Earth Pro through your browser or install the application on your device and find the location you are interested in on the map. To do this, either enter the address in the search bar (top left corner), or rotate the globe until you find what you're looking for. Then click on "View" in the top menu, and then click on "Historical Imagery." You can also click on the button with a clock and a green counterclockwise arrow.

Now you see a strip in the upper left corner of the map image, which represents a timeline of all available satellite images for the area of your interest. The vertical lines on the timeline are different dates for which archived satellite images of the Earth are available. By default, the slider will be at the far right, which corresponds to the most recent image in the service's archives for the selected area of interest. The closer you get to today, the more available satellite and aerial images there are, as with each year, more Earth remote sensing satellites with high spatial resolution imaging are launched than there were 10 or 20 years ago. The earlier you need the dates, the harder it will be to find suitable satellite images.

Sentinel Hub

There are two portals for working with free data: EO Browser and Sentinel Playground. EO Browser allows you to view, analyze, and download materials from medium and low-resolution satellites Sentinel, Landsat -5, 6, 7, and 8, Envisat, Meris, MODIS, GIBS, and Proba-V. The Sentinel Playground portal allows you to view and analyze mosaic images obtained from Sentinel-2, Landsat-8, and MODIS. Eight channel combinations can be applied to each image.

Sentinel Collection

It is stored on the Copernicus Open Access Hub portal. The portal provides the possibility to search, view, and download materials from the entire Sentinel satellite group. The service's interface and functionality are quite limited, but it contains the freshest images from satellites.

INPE Image Database

The National Institute for Space Research of Brazil (INPE) has its own catalog of images, especially for South and Central America and Africa. Here you can use the following data: Aqua, Terra, Suomi-NPP, DEIMOS, UK-DMC 2, CBERS-4 ResourceSat, Landsat-8.


Free Radar Data and Free Digital Terrain Models

In addition to optical-electronic images, there are also databases with free radar data and digital terrain models. Some of this information is available on the portals mentioned above (for example, Sentinel-1 radar data on the portal or SRTM 30m and ASTER DEM 30 v digital terrain model on the portal), but there are also more specialized web services. Let's consider the main ones.

Canadian government portal, which presents Radarsat radar data. Part of the Radarsat-1 archive is available in the public domain.

Japanese Aerospace Agency (JAXA) portal with access to the global digital terrain model ALOS World 3D - 30m (AW3D30) with a resolution of 30 meters. To access the portal, you need to complete registration. The freely distributed DTM with a resolution of 30 meters is based on more detailed DTMs with resolutions of 2.5 and 5 meters, which are distributed on commercial terms.

Website of the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota, which presents the open digital model ArcticDEM with a resolution of 2 meters for areas north of 60° north latitude.

To obtain current information on the availability of space radar images and digital terrain models and their selection for the area of your interest, please send a technical assignment or coordinates of the area to the email: innoter@innoter.com. For consultations, please contact by phone: +7 (495) 245-04-24.