I have made a desktop map system for myself with NW.js, MapBox GL JS and MapBox.com's free satellite pictures.

I don't have money to pay anyone.

While it's cool and fun to use, it's largely ruined by how blurry and outdated the pictures are. Many areas seem years behind, and are depressingly low-res. The geography (height) data is mostly good enough for me, though.

It's not an option to use Google Maps's 3D globe feature, both because I want nothing to do with Google, but also because it's not possible to "hook into" their data to use in my own system. The big thing about using my own system is that I have numerous "markers" which are extremely important to me.

I don't need or expect actual 3D objects and fancy stuff like that which Google has for certain popular areas. All I want is something better than these awfully blurry images (varying slightly depending on the area):


It's also not an option to use anything other than the excellent 3D-camera-based MapBox GL JS. I've used Leaflet in the past, but it's 2D only.

I'm actually a bit bewildered by how there hasn't been some sort of public service global coverage of up-to-date satellite photographs, free for everyone to use, even if it may not be neatly packaged into a ready-to-use service. Frankly, I find it extremely difficult to use a different map source in my MapBox GL JS code, and have tried that in the past. There's an incredible amount of complexity and nothing seems documented/explained clearly.


1 Answer 1


Satellite imagery as of Jan'22 has limitations in terms of Ground Sample Distance and spatial resolution. Most of the satellite imagery you see for prominent satellite imagery providers will be either 30cms GSD or 50cms GSD. Mapbox satellite offers a fused version of satellite+aerial imagery obtained from multiple sources. This includes commercial+opensource aerial imagery from a lot of providers (see image below)

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Capturing Aerial imagery through drones or low flying copter or airplanes is expensive task and hence nobody offers it for free. Except for govt. agencies like USGS https://www.usgs.gov/centers/eros/science/usgs-eros-archive-aerial-photography-aerial-photo-mosaics .

What you are looking for is Aerial imagery for every part of the world, which is not available just yet ! Commercial providers also have permissions to do aerial captures in limited countries due to security concerns. Hope that world will change one day and we have any openly available free high resolution aerial/satellite photos for everyone.

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