I'm using USGS explorer to extract satellite image. What I want is that given a bounding box, I want to extract satellite image inside the box (see the image attached). I don't want the blur satellite images, instead, I want to get the clear image with same quality as in the USGS explorer tool.

Is there a programming way (using Python or any programming language) to obtain these images with USGS explorer or any other data source?

USGS EarthExplorer

  • Considering that the message at the bottom of the window tells us The provided maps are not for purchase or for download; it is to be used as a guide for reference and search purposes only. We might say there is no builtin interface to accessing this data programmatically, and for legal reasons you should probably not try to scrape them
    – nmtoken
    Aug 24, 2020 at 15:08
  • Thanks for pointing out the message. The tool allows to download images from Landsat satellites, but they are very blur, which I think unusable for my work. I wonder where we can extract the clears images like above?
    – lenhhoxung
    Aug 24, 2020 at 15:12
  • Hmm, maybe I'm confusing backdrops with data. Still the description of the website is Query and order satellite images, aerial photographs, and cartographic products through the U.S. Geological Survey
    – nmtoken
    Aug 24, 2020 at 15:27

2 Answers 2


The USGS EarthExplorer tool uses World Imagery from Esri, according to the tile source shown in the image below:

enter image description here

There is also another World Imagery tile layer that is designed for export, rather than displaying live map tiles. But you need an ArcGIS Online subscription in order to use it.

It might be possible to write some Python/JSON code that accomplishes the task of exporting data this way, but perhaps not without special permissions. I think the core of your question is whether there is freely available higher-resolution data than the Earth Explorer is providing for download, and that is one which I am not prepared to answer in full with total confidence...

Additional Considerations:

The availability of a resolution comparable to the tiles you are referring to (which appears to be less than 1 meter) would heavily depend on the size of the region you are interested in. It's hard to get access to recent, high-resolution satellite imagery without paying for it. You might be better off looking for local data repositories that might have obtained aerial imagery in the area you are interested in. For example, in Pennsylvania we have PASDA, which provides access to aerial imagery at differing levels of currentness for most of the state, with some resolutions as small as 0.5-foot.


EarthExplorer does not have an API but the Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAAC's) do have various API's for data access. One common DAAC is Oak Ridge National Laboratory which has various data access methods including the Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS) APIs.

If you were more specific regarding "satellite image" you would receive many more specific responses. For example there are AWS distribution nodes for OLI Landsat 8 and ESA Sentinel-2 which are easily accessed in languages such as Python and R. Although these are specific full scenes and do not allow for "extraction" through bounding coordinates. You have to download the entire scenes intersecting your AOI but, this is also the case with EarthExplorer as there is no data subset feature.

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