November 7, 2023

Free Satellite Imagery Data Sources to Use in Global Mapper

Written by: Amanda Lind


Finding data can sometimes be one of the most challenging parts of starting a GIS project. Once the data has been acquired, loading it into Global Mapper is easy – it has the most extensive list of compatible file types for a GIS software anywhere! This list includes vector data, 3D point clouds, elevation data, and even raster imagery. Once loaded into Global Mapper, imagery can be used as a source for data extraction, compared to measuring change over time, applied as a base map, and more. The Raster Analysis dropdown menu includes staple tools such as the Convolution Filter, Image Painting, and Raster Reclassification. For example, use Vectorize Raster to create vector features from imagery based on shared colors, such as lakes, roads, buildings, etc. To help you get started, here are a few popular sources for free Satellite Imagery Data. 

See also: Free Elevation Data Sources to Use in Global Mapper

Tip: Want to take your data into the field or stream it on the go? Try Global Mapper Mobile

Global Mapper’s Online Data Tool 

First, the Online Data tool is the simplest way to find data for Global Mapper. Along with other vector and elevation sources, Image data can be streamed directly into your workspace. Most of the data is streamed from freely available sources such as STRM, the USGS National Map, and others. Some of these sources will automatically open through the web in your default browser. The benefit of opening these web portals through Global Mapper is that it will automatically pan the map to match the data extent already open in your workspace. 

Once loaded into your workspace, the data can be exported and saved on your machine to be used in Global Mapper’s Raster analysis toolset. Found a server that we don’t host? You can add it to your Global Mapper with the Add Custom Sources option. For more information, check out this other blog on Working with Online Data in Global Mapper

Image section in Global Mapper's Online Data tool
The Online Data tool is a direct connection to data for your area of study.

USGS Earth Explorer 

The EarthExplorer (EE) provides access to earth science data from the archives of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). This portal allows for online search data download of satellite, aircraft, and other remote sensing inventories. Browse the Data Sets tab to see the full list, as shown below. The Earth Explorer site is easy to navigate, but there are many tutorials to help you get started. 

For a full list of USGS imagery products, see the USGS EROS Archive

Earth Explorer is another available source in Global Mapper’s Online Data tool, as mentioned above, that will redirect you to the website in your default browser. Loading from the online data tool will automatically pan to your study area as matched to your GM workspace. To use the data in your workspace, download it from Earth Explorer and import it into Global Mapper.

Earth Explorer website
Earth Explorer provides access to aerial imagery, as well as Landsat data, and elevation files.

US National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) 

US-based users can stream NAIP imagery hosted by the Dept of Agriculture. These 4 band (RGB/NIR) images are captured during the agricultural growing seasons in the United States and boast 60cm or higher resolution. This extensive dataset is updated annually, with the goal of no more than a year turnaround to publication after data acquisition. NAIP began in 2022, and has expanded to cover more states with hier resolution each yet. 

For less date-specific imagery, NAIP Imagery (USDA CONUS PRIME) is built into the Online Data tool, found in the Popular Sources section. Many NAIP datasets are available for download from public servers, such as the 2023 datasets on CONUS Prime linked at the bottom of this page, or the Public Image Services map. You can use these to create custom online data sources in Global Mapper.

NAIP 2023 collection map
NAIP reports that 2023, shown here, has the highest number of states recorded in 30cm resolution.

Europe: Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem (Formerly Copernicus Open Access Hub)

The Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem Browser is a portal that provides access to Sentinel data. Copernicus is the European observation and monitoring program that provides not only imagery but also data products derived from air and sea-based sensors. This vast global dataset is available to anyone regardless of location. Learn more about Copernicus here

Copernicus is another source available in Global Mapper’s Online Data tool that will redirect you to the website in your default browser. Loading from the online data tool will automatically pan to your study area as matched to your GM workspace. Download the data to use it in your workspace.

Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem browser
Copernicus offers an array of data and imagery.

Explore an image workflow in Global Mapper Pro by downloading a free, 14-day trial today! If you have any questions, please contact us.

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