How do you view free satellite imagery?


Quick Answer

Google Maps and its downloadable counterpart, Google Earth, provide satellite photos of the earth as viewing modes. Other dedicated satellite imagery websites include TerraServer and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's public satellite server.

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Full Answer

Access satellite imagery in Google Maps by clicking the Earth icon in the lower left corner of the screen. Google Earth shows satellite pictures of the world combined into a single 3D globe by default. TerraServer requests a location before it provides its satellite imagery of the area, but allows the user to select from multiple images taken at different dates under Image Options.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides enhanced visible, infrared, and water vapor images. Geostationary satellites take these images. Geostationary satellites orbit the Earth at a speed to exactly match the Earth's rotation speed, thus seeing only one area of the planet at different times of the day.

Satellite imagery in Google Maps and Google Earth is not always up to date in all areas. In these areas, recent changes to the landscape are not reflected. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updates satellite imagery according to the time it takes for each of the individual satellites they use to transfer and process the information, which takes as little as 25 minutes.

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