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In the recent aftermath of the hurricane that ripped through the north eastern states and the fires that plagued the western part of the United States this past summer, I was reminded of the wealth of remotely sensed imagery (satellite and aerial photography) that exists and is easily accessible via the web. Shortly after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the Atlantic coast there were images posted showing before and after shots of a coastal region. The extent of the damage was clear, with houses destroyed, roads and bridges washed out, and tons of debris left on lawns and in streets (see images here).
Remotely sensed Imagery (see background information here) is available on the web from many different sources and while real-time imagery is not available there are some sites where you can find imagery that is about 2.5 hours old. Below are several sites and links to some of the more common online resources.
My favorite site is the NASA MODIS Rapid Response system that provides near real-time imagery from several different satellites. There are several features within the system that make it easier to find data. Hazards and disasters is a subset featuring a variety of natural and man-made disasters. And if you are looking for near real-time imagery, click on the MODIS Near Real-Time (Orbit Swath) Images. This will give you access to images captured by the Terra and Aqua Satellites.
NASA Earth Observatory is another great resource that provides high-resolution imagery. It also breaks imagery into different categories to make it easier to find the information you are looking for. There are global maps that track all types of changes happening on the earth’s surface, as well as the atmosphere. The featured category highlights some of the better-known imagery sets. The most amazing earth feature I’ve seen captured in imagery is the Shrinking Aral Sea. Click on the year buttons to see the changes.
There are many other sites that can be found through a simple search on Google. NOAA has a great site when looking for atmospheric imagery. The Landsat satellites have offered the longest continuous record of the Earth’s surface and provide a longitudinal look at the Earth from space. For those of you looking for a different spin on imagery the USGS site, Earth as Art has captured some of the more visual appealing images from space. And for a little different look at the Earth, NASA hosts a site called Astronaut Photography of Earth. This site features images captured by the astronauts that have participated in the many different missions to space.
Add a comment below if you have a favorite site for imagery?