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I have not been able to find out this myself, but is there a way to programmatic access Landsat 8 Satellite Images? I know that I can go to USGS EarthExplorer to search and browse through the scenes, and even download them. But I do not want to download them to my own computer for two reasons, My internet is slow and my laptop have cooling issues.

So instead I figure I want to transfer the images directly to a “cloud”-instance for data processing. I would also be nice if I could download and process these images as they become available from USGS.

Is there a way this could be done?

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What processing products do you want to make? – Willy Sep 30 '13 at 1:25
You may be interested in – Willy Sep 30 '13 at 1:30
Any progress on this? – Willy Nov 7 '13 at 9:39
@Willy My intention was mostly just experimenting, but I was planning on to see if I can make a tool that aggregates images from my neighborhood aggregates that, makes time-series and alerts of changes and also a composite-image without clouds. I do have experience with a few PaaS:es, but I figure that they might be too limited and that I'll have to use an IaaS like EC2. So until I get around to learn more about that, the project is dead in the tracks. I'll check your link. – Frank Nov 18 '13 at 21:43
In my opinion the problem is the "did" parameter in the link, now I still don't know what the *** is this parameter because after few days the old "did" will be die and everytime you use the website download tool it'll change. I want to download Landsat 8 from earthexplorer too and still stuck in here. – Bằng Rikimaru May 22 '14 at 3:56
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I saw a blog post from developmentseed for their command line utility landsat-util.

Power tools for Satellite Imagery

The landsat-util can be forked from github and compiled from source unless your OS offers it in a binary ready to go.

The blog describes it simply as:

a command line utility that makes it easy to search, download, and process Landsat imagery.

You can search based on date, cloud coverage % and other things, download immediately, or process once it's downloaded like pansharpen or stitch the images together.

You can preview images before you download. Search commands provide a link to a thumbnail for each image.

landsat search --cloud 4 --start "August 1 2013" --end "August 25 2014" country 'Vatican'

Using the --pansharpen flag will take longer to process but will produce clearer images.

landsat search --download --imageprocess --pansharpen --cloud 4 --start "august 11 2013" --end "august 13 2013" pr 191 031

You can also perform all processing on images that you previously downloaded.

landsat download LC81050682014217LGN00

landsat process --pansharpen /your/path/

Here's a readme with more info.

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Daumn, that's just awesome! Thanks! – Frank Jan 11 '15 at 7:27

How about firing up an EC2 or rackspace instance and installing the EarthExplorer bulk download application:

You could hit the EarthExplorer service with a POST request to submit jobs programmatically:

You would need to provide standingRequestName, frequency, subscription_start, subscription_end, search_start, search_end parameters. This would get you started, but it feels like a back door and that the bulk downloader application running on an EC2 instance would be a better and less time consuming option.

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After some exploration, I'm seconding this suggestion. It seems you can use the EE URLs if you manage to send authentication with your request, but that alternative would be hackish. – chryss Sep 29 '13 at 17:11
My answer for Site to download al USGS Topo Maps in bulk may help in constructing POST requests (though we'll have to wait for the US government to resume operations to find out). – matt wilkie Oct 7 '13 at 20:36

I intend to do the same so I start an Amazon EC-2 instance and install the Bulk Download on it. But as far as I know it's a graphical application and nothing in the doc Bulk Download Tutorial lets hope that you can use it with the terminal.

I read here about the possibility of using Curl but it returns an 403 access denied

Hope it could help to finally find a concrete answer.


After writing emails to USGS, the official answer is that Bulk Download is the only way for massive download.

But Charlie Loyd From Mapbox wrote me another possibility:

Google Storage also mirrors much of the Landsat archive. You can install their “gsutil” (free) and then list this directory, which is indexed by sensor (for example, L8 is Landsat 8) and path/row: gsutil ls gs://earthengine-public/landsat/

I have to add that when browsing through paths and rows remember that it is a 3 numbers based. For example if you need Path 210 Row 40, you have to browse for folder 210 and then 040.

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About using cURL, I think that you must feed it with some cookies; Open the inspector of your browser to see which cookies are set. – Frank Mar 25 '14 at 20:49
That the idea @Frank, but I can not find the way. With the following code: Curl -v --cookie "cookieName= MyAuthCookie " "TheLinkTotheArchive" it still return an 403 Error. – Inclanfunk Mar 26 '14 at 22:55

This script, with some tweaking (indentation issues and some comments/variables were in french) has been extremely helpful to me. However, it can only download the data that's already in the archive. So for data that hasn't been processed, you have to order it. I'm working on automating that now, but off to a slow start (as i just started 30 minutes ago). Eventually I want the data to be downloaded to my cloud server, but for now I'm just testing it on my desktop (you just specify an output directory and the files are automatically put there).

I too am interested in downloading the data as it becomes available--specifically the surface reflectance data before it is thrown out (I'm told USGS processes the raw data into surface reflectance temporarily before throwing it out, although some gets stored in the archive). Please let us know if you have made any headway.

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