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I'm building a web application - my requirements are:

  • Must have global satellite imagery.
  • Must have easy to use API's that are capable of geoJSON data imports, mouse and keyboard gestures, etc.

To my knowledge Bing, Google and Yahoo are the only companies that supply both of these. Some support the former to an extent; perhaps not global (NASA, third party mapping solutions), and some support the latter (OSM for example)...but few support both.

Are my only options Bing, Google, and Yahoo?

If so, is anyone aware of any ongoing projects (satellites) that are under construction that will eventually be launched and provide global satellite coverage under open source?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Imagery is expensive to capture and produce, which effectively limits its production to commercial entities and governments. Most of the commercial satellites don't carry consistent global coverage and generate income by selling access to scenes, including their resale to the providers you listed. That leaves government options in the free category: perhaps the best remains the Landsat 7 products, which are about 30 meter resolution in most channels and 15 meter in the IR. A number of areas have aerial flyovers which are freely available, such as those used in World Wind.

The global satellites page on Wikipedia is a helpful list, and there is a new Landsat platform launching next year which will continue that platforms provisioning of global, consistent and free imagery. GLCF remains a good source for the existing free data, as are the NASA Landsat mosaics.

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Landsat 7 has the best coverage although in terms of resolution Aster and EO1 are competitors. –  Matthew Snape May 15 '11 at 18:36

The OpenAerialMap project was abandoned, but has recently been restarted. It will be an amalgamation of free datasets from different areas of the planet, with global datasets for areas with nothing more detailed. The global datasets used are i-cubed, and the NASA imagery. The current list of datasources used by the projects can be found here. The source code for the server software is also on GitHub.

However the server is currently offline, so this is probably only something to keep an eye on at the moment, rather than an option for a live system.

For the second part of your question, you can use OpenLayers which covers the "geoJSON data imports, mouse and keyboard gestures, etc." - it also allows you to bring in data from any of Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. so you can keep the data and API components separate.

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If you are prepared to pay there are a couple more options:

  • Digital Globe offer a wms service that could be linked with OpenLayers.
  • The ESRI Javascript API has global satellite data at varying resolution.
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You should look at the latest from ESRI.
Called "Change Matters" it is global landsat as a service.
It has been processed into epochs. with some more epochs coming soon I believe.
ESRI's news page is here
With two easy ways to access via a modifiable side by side viewer or as services from arcgisonline.
launch page
Access to all services on arcgisonline

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MapBox recently (as of appx Fall/2013) started offering an imagery service, and while it's not available to free accounts, it is available to all of their paid accounts, which start at just $5 a month.

I'm impressed with the resolution they've achieved, too. This is zoomed-in to a small town in Arkansas where I used to play baseball as a kid. (Select "Satellite" in the lower left corner to enable the imagery.)

..that's some pretty detailed coverage considering it's over a rural community of about 600 people.

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