Free USA SPOT Data

Since November, 2009 The U.S. Geological Survey has distributed SPOT satellite image data collected over parts of North America between 1986 and 1998.

The USGS distributes this data at no charge through the USGS Earth Explorer search and order tool. Access is open to any registered user within the U.S. Unlike Landsat and Canadian GeoBase SPOT data, the use of the SPOT data for commercial purposes is not allowed according to the license. Users of the data are subject to the following terms and conditions:

SPOT Image Corporation

"Users accessing the EROS/SPOT imagery agree to use this imagery for noncommercial purposes only;
Users will not use the imagery for purposes of monetary reward by means of the sale, resale, loan transfer, hire or other form of commercial exploitation;

Users accessing the EROS/SPOT imagery profess that they are located in the United States of America and agree to keep the imagery and any products derived there from in the United States. Under no circumstances are users authorized to transfer the imagery or any products derived from the imagery to any entity located outside of the United States; and

Users accessing the EROS/SPOT imagery acknowledge that this imagery remains the property of the CNES and all extracts, prints, etc. must retain the copyright: CNES (date of image) Distribution Spot Image".

When you visit the Earth Explorer website, the SPOT data category is not even listed. In order to view it and to access the data, you will need to register and submit a user name and password. When you complete this, the SPOT category will be visible at the end of the directory chain. Select it and then select your area of interest by either keying in coordinates or by selecting corner coordinates on the Google map in the user interface. After completion of your search, you will be presented with a table of file results.

Each image is a false color composite of SPOT bands 1, 2, and 3 (green, red and near infrared) measuring 3000 X 3000 pixels. Neither the band 4 data nor the panchromatic band is available. The image to the right is a screen shot of the user interface.

The table does not contain any meta data, nor does this information appear elsewhere on the website. In order to access this, and a lot of other useful information it is necessary to heed the offer that "Your search results are now available in KML. Click on the KML button below the search results list to download the KML file. Clicking on this button at the bottom of the screen opens the Google Earth application. Your target scenes will be superimposed on the Google Earth globe. Clicking on any of the scenes presents an extensive set of metadata for each one. The following table shows the metadata summary table. Clicking on the links brings up more data.

It would have been somewhat more useful if the data was archived by band and even more useful if band 4 and PAN were included. Also needed is a more liberal license agreement that would allow unrestricted use of the data. However the purchase and free offer of SPOT is a step in the right direction for the USGS, one that will hopefully lead to a much more complete archive of satellite imagery.

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