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Download Free Landsat Imagery – USGS Earth Explorer

27 Apr

Download Free Landsat Imagery – USGS Earth Explorer

How to download free Landsat imagery with USGS Earth Explorer?

The USGS Earth Explorer is a similar tool to the USGS Global Visualization Viewer (GloVis) in that users search catalogs of satellite and aerial imagery. The USGS Earth Explorer is the new and improved version.

The USGS Earth Explorer gives some extra capabilities:

  • Downloading data over chronological timelines.
  • Wide range of specifying search criteria.
  • A long list of satellite and aerial imagery to choose.

Explore one of the largest databases of remote sensing data and create some of your own land cover classification.

User Interface

USGS Earth Explorer UI
USGS Earth Explorer UI

The USGS Earth Explorer interface uses Google Maps. You can zoom in and out with the mouse wheel as if you are in Google Maps. Google street view is also enabled, where you can drop a marker and get a real view of the location.

Users can double-click the browser to create regions of interest. The region of interest (ROI) is the geographic boundary that limits the search to acquire data.

Search Criteria Tab

The search criteria gives more options to create a region of interest:

  • Using an address to search
  • Importing a spatial file (shapefile or KML)
  • Or you can just double-click the map to make your ROI

You can also set a timeline for aerial and satellite imagery downloads in USGS Earth Explorer. You no longer need to search through a long list of acquisitions to find the correct date. This is a powerful tool that in the end saves you time.

Datasets Tab

The “Datasets tab” answers the important question: What satellite or aerial imagery are you looking for?

The USGS Earth Explorer remote sensing datasets are plentiful: aerial imagery, AVHRR, commercial imagery, digital elevation, Landsat, LiDAR, MODIS, Radar and more.

The additional criteria tab allows you to choose the amount of cloud cover, day/night acquisition and data type level to refine your search even more.

Interestingly, USGS Earth Explorer now warehouses Sentinel-2 data. This is really your best option for crisp 10-meter continous coverage of the planet.

Search Results

Now that the date range, type of data and additional criteria are defined, the search results tab will populate with datasets that match your query.

Select the data set you want. There’s an option to preview the data, which can be good to see exactly where clouds are in the image. The Georeferenced GeoTIFF is probably the one you’re after, which will be the largest file size.

At this point, you will need an account to download data. A USGS Earth Explorer account is free. Type in your email address. Click the cart icon to download data.

Let’s Recap:

The USGS Earth Explorer gives a quick and intuitive way to download free aerial and satellite imagery. This tool gives a wide range of options. You can define the time period, geographic extent and imagery type. Test it out for free downloads of remote sensing imagery and more.

Steps to Download USGS Earth Explorer Data:

  • Set region of interest and time period
  • Specify the type of data you want
  • Search data and download.

A big part of the USGS Earth Explorer is the data available from the Landsat mission.

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