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So, I am not a GIS expert. I just write software and I've done some work with ArcMap, ArcGIS Server, and FalconView. What I need is world wide satellite imagery I can use on a local machine. Street data would be nice but not a priority as I really need the terrain more. I am starting from the premise that cost isn't an issue.

My mapping software will be installed on a special rugged lightweight laptop that will not have any internet connection. Basically, map data transfer will be by USB flash drive and/or DVD as needed before embarking (and possibly ethernet over USB vi jack or wifi but that can't be counted on). No matter when and where the map application is in use there won't be any internet (not even 3G/4G) at all. Think back woods, high mountains, post disaster etc.

I've found the following possible providers that seem to sell image tiles and I'm wondering if there are any I might be missing?

Thanks for any tips or ideas!


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up vote 3 down vote accepted


Vector street data from OSM is a convenient bundled download; Some is inferior and some is superior to commercial options.

It's also available from CloudMade as prerendered tiles.

The Global Land Cover Facility has GLS with global coverage and FTP access for the y2000 epoch, representing a rough synthesis of cloud-free Landsat data.

Not Free

MDA Federal offers a finished satellite imagery dataset through its Earthsat division: "EarthSat NaturalVue is 30 times more detailed than the next highest resolution global natural color dataset," said Roger Mitchell, MDA Geospatial Services U.S. Vice President. "We believe it will become the cartographic standard at these scales." Harris, MDA, & TerraMetrics all work with 15-meter Landsat 7 imagery.

The main competitors for big bulk satellite datasets, with varying degrees of processing, are:

  • SpotImage, a division of EADS astrium
  • GeoEye
  • DigitalGlobe

There's always the option of tasking a small area for on-demand capture (you said cost was no object!) after you know your destination, too.

This site provides samples from several of their favored providers:

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I found digital globe last night. Pretty nice looking option. The Global Land Cover Facility is new to me and looks very promising. Heck, it all looks promising! I have been searching for days and never saw some of these. Thanks for the help! – irtheman Jun 8 '12 at 1:12

If you're looking for imagery covering United States, the USGS Seamless Viewer has quite a variety of imagery for download depending upon the area of interest.

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I don't want to limit myself to just the US but this is very promising as well. Thanks for the tip! – irtheman Jun 8 '12 at 1:14

Also, checkout USDA-NRCS geospatial data gateway:

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Wow, looks like this site might be part of recent government shutdown – bcollins Oct 2 '13 at 22:28

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