European Space Agency

The Copernicus program is an Earth observation cooperation of the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA). Sentinels is a family of 2-satellite missions ESA has been developing for the Copernicus programme.

  • Sentinel-1 is a polar-orbiting, radar imaging mission for land and ocean services; Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-1B were launched on 2014-04-03 and on 2016-04-25 respectively.
  • Sentinel-2 is a polar-orbiting, multi-spectral high-resolution imaging mission for land monitoring; Sentinel-2A was launched on 2015-06-23 and Sentinel-2B will follow in the second half of 2016.
  • Sentinel-3 is a multi-instrument mission for sea-surface topography, sea/land temperature and ocean/land colour; Sentinel-3A was launched on 2016-02-16. Sentinel-3B is scheduled for launch in 2017.
  • Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5 are dedicated to atmospheric monitoring in geostationary orbit and polar orbit respectively.
  • Sentinel-6 carries a radar altimeter to measure global sea-surface height.

Access to Sentinel data and service information is free, full and open (Legal notice). ESA make Sentinel data available to individuals and entities worldwide through online portals called the Sentinel Data Hubs (Terms and Conditions).

Sentinel-2 data is available on AWS, with 13 bands measured at 10/20/60 meters every 10 days with one satellite (5 days with 2 satellites). (Product Specification)

  • 4 spectral bands (2/3/4/8; B/G/R/NIR) at 10 m;
  • 6 bands (5/6/7/8A/11/12; Vegetation Red Edge/SWIR) at 20 m;
  • 3 bands (1/9/10; Coastal aerosol/Water vapour/Cirrus cloud) at 60 m;

Sentinel-1 data is also available on AWS.


The Landsat program is a joint NASA/USGS program that provides the longest continuous space-based record of Earth's land in existence.

  • Landsat 7: launched on 1999-04-15, 16 days, 15 to 60 meters, 8 spectral bands;
  • Landsat 8: launched on 2013-02-11, 16 days, 15 m panchromatic, 30 m 8-band, 100 m long-wavelength;

  1. Geometry: Boundaries, Transportation, Structures, Hydrography;
  2. Earth Observation: Land Cover, Elevation, Orthoimagery;

3D Elevation Program Products

3D Elevation Program (3DEP) products:

  1. Bare earth DEM layers (avaiablity and resolution)
    • nationally seamless; 1/3 and 1 arc-second (~10m and 30m north-southwise);
    • parts of conterminous U.S.; 1/9 arc-second (~3.4m north-southwise), 1-meter;
    • Alaska only; 2 arc-second, 5-meter;
  2. LIDAR Point Cloud (LPC): parts of US;
  3. InSAR DSM and ORI: Alaska only;

Land Cover Products

The USGS Land Cover Institute (LCI) serves domestic and international land cover data sets to facilitate land cover and land use science. For example, the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) classifies land cover consistently over the US in 21 categories with a resolution of 30 meters.

German Aerospace Center

The German Aerospace Center (DLR), the German counterpart of NASA, is the national aeronautics and space research centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its research focuses on five domains: Aeronautics, Space, Energy, Transport, and Security. The Earth Observation Center (EOC) at DLR is allocated to the research domains of Space and Transportation.

Organizational Structure of DLR-EOC:

  1. German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD)
    1. Land Surface
    2. Atmosphere
    3. Geo-risks and Civil Security
    4. National Ground Segment
    5. International Ground Segment
    6. Information Technology
    7. Science Communication and Visualization
  2. Remote Sensing Technology Institute (IMF)
    1. Atmospheric Processors (ATP)
    2. Photogrammetry and Image Analysis (PBA)
    3. Synthetic Aperture Radar Signal Processing (SAR)
    4. Experimental Methods (EXV)
    5. The Controlling department (EOC-CON)

DFD is predominantly active in the Space - Earth Observation program at DLR, while IMF also receives funding from the Transportation and Aeronautics programs. DFD concentrates on developing applications and services, whereas IMF focuses mainly on image and radar data processing methodologies.

TanDEM-X Products

DLR's TanDEM-X satellite mission involves two Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Earth observation satellites, TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X, which are closely controlled in a formation with typical distances between 250 and 500 m.

WorldDEM is a global digital elevation model (DEM). WorldDEM provides a 12 m x 12 m raster with 2 m relative / 4 m absolute vertical accuracy since 2014, consistently covering the Earth’s entire land surface. The resolution of WorldDEM is unprecedented among global satellite-based DEMs, corresponding to DTED (Digital Terrain Elevation Data) Level 3, i.e. post spacing of better than 12 m.

Global Urban Footprint (GUF):

  • 3 m resolution of original TanDEM-X SAR data (2011-2013);
  • ~12 m (0.4 arcsec) resolution for scientific use, binary settlement mask;
  • ~84 m (2.8 arcsec) resolution for non-profit use, planned release of validated GUF in 2015.


DigitalGlobe is an American commercial vendor of satellite imagery, founded in January 1992.

DigitalGlobe satellite resolution:

  1. Ikonos (1999):;
  2. QuickBird (2001):;
  3. WorldView-1 (2007):;
  4. GeoEye-1 (2008):;
  5. WorldView-2 (2009):;
  6. WorldView-3 (2014-08-13): panchromatic, 0.31 m; 8-band, 1.24 m; infrared, 3.7 m; CAVIS, 30 m;
  7. WorldView-4 (2016-11-11): similar to WorldView-3;


The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is a global voluntary partnership of member governments and participating organizations, aimed at constructing a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) from 2005 to 2015. GEOSS seeks to connect the producers of Earth observation data and decision-support tools with the end users of these products.

GEO facilitate access to earth observation data in nine priority areas:

  1. natural and human-induced DISASTERS,
  2. environmental sources of HEALTH hazards,
  3. ENERGY management,
  4. CLIMATE change and its impacts,
  5. FRESHWATER resources,
  6. WEATHER forecasting,
  7. ECOSYSTEM management,
  8. sustainable AGRICULTURE,
  9. BIODIVERSITY conservation.

Related initiatives: INSPIRE geoportal

🏷 Category=Geographic Information System