Imagery FAQs:

  • How old are your images?

    Our newest images tend to be between four and six months old while our oldest imagery dates from 1990 and is generally low resolution. To determine when imagery was taken for your location, please do an Image Search.

  • What imagery is available for my location?

    We offer a variety of search methods to determine what imagery is available for your location. You may search by city, address, intersection, lat/long coordinates, UTM coordinates, and township/range.

    The imagery search feature is located at the upper left hand side of the site. All of the imagery that we have for a location will be made available after the search. Once an image is displayed in the image viewer, simply click on the pull down menu titled Imagery in the image viewer to select different dates and resolutions.

    While coverage over the oceans is not always present, the 15 meter satellite covers almost every area of land in the world. There is also no coverage over the poles, both north and south. It is best to do a search to find whether there is high resolution coverage of your location.

  • I searched for an international location and received no results. What is wrong?

    The current search parameters for international locations are based on a single spelling of the city. For example, Turin, Italy must be searched using Torino and Venice, Italy must be searched using Venetia. However, Beijing, China must be entered as Peking. If you are having trouble searching an international city, try finding alternate spellings.

  • Do you have imagery for the entire United States?

    We have imagery for the entire United States, with all but about 1% available at 1 meter resolution or better.

  • Do you have imagery for the entire world?

    The 15 meter satellite has imagery of all areas on land south of the Arctic Circle and north of the Antarctic Circle. There are areas in the middle of the ocean that are not covered. Please do a search to find out if your area is covered.

  • Can I request that an image be taken of a certain location?

    No. We compile images from various sources to make finding existing satellite and aerial imagery easier for the end user. As such, we do not own or operate any satellites. There are companies who will take satellite imagery by request, but this is a very expensive process. If you are interested in having this done, please contact us using the Contact Page and we will discuss which of our partners may be able to assist you.

  • Do you have imagery from a certain date?

    Not in most cases. There are only a few satellites orbiting the Earth with the intent of taking commercially available images. High resolution satellites are only taking pictures in narrow swaths that are a few miles wide and only orbit the Earth once a day, usually passing overhead at 10 AM. Because only a small area is being photographed per day, the chances of a satellite being over a certain area on that specific date are very small. The dates of all of our images are returned in the search results.

  • Where do the images come from?

    We source our images from numerous different providers and we are constantly at work trying to expand that list for our users. Our current list of providers includes DigitalGlobe, USGS, and Sanborn.

  • What is the difference between satellite and aerial imagery?

    Satellite imagery was taken remotely by a satellite orbiting the Earth. Aerial imagery is taken from an airplane or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that is flying within the Earth’s atmosphere. Aerial vehicles are not in orbit.

  • What altitude are your images taken from?

    The satellite images are taken from an altitude of approximately 450 km or 279 miles. The aerial image altitude varies by provider. Regardless, the altitude that the image was taken from will not play a role in how the image displays in the viewer.

  • What types of imagery do you have (color, format)?

    We have imagery available in panchromatic (gray scale), multispectral (color), and infrared. We also maintain a database of topographic maps.

  • What do the resolution numbers mean?

    The resolution number represents the distance covered by one pixel in the image. Therefore, a 1 meter image is an image where 1 pixel is equal to 1 meter. A 1000 x 1000 pixel image at 1 meter resolution would cover an area 1000 meters by 1000 meters, or one square kilometer.

  • What resolution image is best for me to use?

    The best resolution for you depends largely on what you are trying to pull out of the image. A 0.1524 meter aerial image could possibly allow you to make out individual people on a sidewalk. You wouldn’t be able to identify the person, but you would be able to see that they are there. A 0.3 meter aerial image would allow you to view automobiles and other objects of comparable size. A 0.6 meter image is good for viewing all different sizes of structures. A 1 meter image will allow you to identify a house or other medium sized structure. Anything higher than that will be useful for looking at large spaces.

    With each pixel representing the distance given by the resolution, consider the size of the object that you wish to view when determining what resolution is best for you. For more information about resolution, consult the FAQ titled, "What do the resolution numbers mean?"

  • What is the highest resolution and newest imagery that you have available?

    The highest resolution imagery that we have available is 0.075 meter imagery, but this resolution is quite rare and is only in very populated areas. The newest imagery that we have available is generally 2-3 months old, but this is typically very rare.

  • Do you have night time images?

    Satellites do not have large flash bulbs, so they cannot take high resolution images at night. Most satellite images are taken between 8 AM and 10 AM. Aerial images can vary throughout the day.

  • Can you attach a scale to my image?

    Currently, we cannot attach a scale to an image. We are developing this feature and looking to release it soon.

  • Can I print an image?

    Subscribers may print images for free at the viewer size, approximately 750 by 575 pixels. To learn more about the benefits of becoming a subscriber, click here. Non-subscribers may not print images.

  • How often are your images updated?

    We update our image database as soon as our providers make it available. We always want our customers to have access to the most recent data on the web. Generally, heavily populated areas are updated almost every year. Smaller cities and large towns are generally updated every two to three years. Rural areas are less frequently updated. By maintaining even our older imagery, we allow the user to build a time lapse slide show of an area.

    To determine how often imagery is updated in your area, please do an Image Search.

  • Can I get live feed of a location?

    No. Satellites that take digital imagery do not operate like webcams. First, they are orbiting the Earth, so they may not even be over your area anytime that day. Second, the ones that take the high-res imagery do so in narrow swaths of a few kilometers.

    Think of it like wrapping a strand of hair around a tennis ball. Then, any imagery that is taken has to be downloaded to a ground station and processed to line it up with the proper coordinates. Since areas do not change that quickly, it may be a few months or more before the same satellite might update an area.

  • Is imagery available of classified areas?

    TerraServer is partnered with providers who would not compromise the national security of the United States or any of her allies. All of our partners comply with regulations governing the taking and distribution of satellite and aerial images.

  • What makes your imagery better than other sites on the internet?

    TerraServer is a superior service because we have partnered with many of the leading providers in the satellite and aerial image industry to provide our users with an unequaled collection of images from numerous sources. No other service can provide its users with the vast array of imagery available from TerraServer. Our superior customer service and easy to use website have helped make TerraServer the number one satellite and aerial image company on the internet.

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