I'm new to GIS and I'd like to apply some machine learning techniques to decent-quality satellite data for making certain types of predictions. This would potentially be for commercial purposes.

I'm looking for a way to access satellite imagery of the United States. I will need to select hundreds of high-resolution images to serve as training/testing data.

I was hoping, being so new to GIS, that there was either a free or inexpensive collection of satellite images of the U.S. to download, but its starting to sound like all the big companies (DigitalGlobe, etc.) that have to foot the bill to launch satellites into orbit aren't so keen on giving their data away to the everyman...

So I'm taking a wild swing here: are there any cheap-but-decent-quality data sets of satellite imagery, ideally of the U.S., that can be downloaded and even potentially used for commercial purposes?

Note: Google Earth/Engine is free to end users but if you read the fine print they don't want you using their images for commercial purposes.

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    What resolution are you looking for? I'd check Landsat or Sentinel imgery. If you need a higher resolution, check Planet. They have a trial and you can see if it fits your purposes. Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 18:03
  • Thanks @MarceloVilla (+1) I will check out Planet. I looked at Landsat earlier and it just seems like they have a free web tool but no way to actually download images. Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 18:46

1 Answer 1


Google Earth Engine doesn't want you using their platform for commercial purposes. The imagery is another story. As others have pointed out, I would suggest exploring the Landsat and Sentinel 2 archive. These can be accessed in a number of ways. Check out the USDA EarthExplorer as a way to acquire satellite imagery - https://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/.

  • Thanks @Pdavis327 (+1) -- a few followup questions if you don't mind: (1) what is the difference between Landsat and this USDA EarthExplorer? Is Landsat the data/imagery provider, and the EarthExplorer is just a tool the uses that data/imagery? Or should I think of them (and their relationship to one another) differently? And (2) is it possible/legal/within-their-terms-of-use to export Landsat/Sentinel2 images and even modify them for commercial use? Thanks again! Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 19:54
  • EarthExplorer is just the online platform to access the imagery. Landsat refers to the earth observing satellites that acquire the data. Yes, it is legal.
    – Pdavis327
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 20:09

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