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I am trying to save a raster satellite image from esri world imagery as a georeferenced layer file. i still want to be able to zoom in and out as i can when veiwing it through the server.

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Since the Esri World Imagery is being pushed out from Esri's servers as a service you are not able to save a copy of it unfortunately. Even if you could the data would be enormous.

You can grab a pre-made layer file of the imagery here though: http://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=10df2279f9684e4a9f6a7f08febac2a9

See the "ArcGIS Desktop Files" section at the bottom.

However this is essentially the same thing as just adding the Esri World Imagery basemap directly from the "Add Basemap" feature in ArcMap. The layer file is just a pointer to services.arcgisonline.com/arcgis/services/World_Imagery, which is an Esri server, rather than actually downloading the hard data. This is also why you get that nice zoom in zoom out scale functionality because of the scale dependencies that Esri builds into this service.

If you want the actual "hard copy" satellite imagery data of equal quality it will likely cost you a fair bit. Or you could utilzie freely available datasets like NAIP. If you are interested in trying out such data I recommend using this USDA geoportal. The data will not have as high of a spatial resolution though.

Hope this helps.

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