The Nature of Geographic Information

12. Site Visit to DigitalGlobe

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DigitalGlobe began as WorldView Imaging Corporation, one of several companies founded in anticipation of the 1992 Land Remote Sensing Policy Act, which created the commercial satellite imaging business in the U.S. Another startup was ORBIMAGE, which was renamed GeoEye after acquiring Space Imaging Corporation. DigitalGlobe became the world’s largest commercial provider of earth imaging products after it acquired GeoEye in 2013. This site visit is meant to acquaint you with with the kinds of sensors, data products and services a provider like DigitalGlobe offers.

Digital Globe Home Page Image
Figure 8.13.1: DigitalGlobe home page

The instructions below are based on the October 2015 version of the website. Please bear in mind that websites change without notice.

1. First, go to DigitalGlobe’s home page and scroll to the bottom, where you’ll find a list of CONTENT.
Follow links in that list to explore DigitalGlobe’s various products and services, including Imagery, Elevation, and Human Landscape.

Digital Globe Content Menu Example
Figure 8.13.2: DigitalGlobe Content list

2. In the list of CONTENT, follow the Imagery Suite link and explore DigitalGlobe’s imagery products, including Basic Imagery, Standard Imagery, Precision Aerial, and New Collection Request. The latter allows satellite tasking requests to be made.

Digital Globe Imagery Suite Image
Figure 8.13.3: DigitalGlobe Imagery page

4. Near the bottom of each Imagery product page you should find a link to a Datasheet. Click the link to view the datasheet. (It will open in a new window or tab.)

DigitalGlobe Datasheet link
Figure 8.13.4: Datasheet link found at bottom of an Imagery product page

5. Study the data sheets with a few questions in mind: What’s the difference between “Basic” and “Standard” imagery? Which sensing systems contribute to each imagery product? Which image bands are available? What information about spatial (pixel) and radiometric resolution are provided?

Figure 8.13.5: DigitalGlobe datasheet for "Basic Imagery" products

6. Next, let’s see what imagery products are available for your area of interest. Go back to the main page and scroll all the way to the bottom again and follow the Quick Link to Search Imagery

Digital Globe Quick Links Image
Figure 8.13.6: DigitalGlobe Search Imagery link

Following the Search Imagery link will open the ImageFinder tool. As of this writing, it looked like the image below.

7. Enter a place name in the Go To: field to search the gazetteer. I was interested in chose Perth, Australia, but I just typed Perth into the field.

DigitalGlobe ImageFinder tool interface
Fig. 8.13.7

8. Next, click the green “Go to this location” arrow head. That will open the ImageFinder Gazetteer window, showing in my case a list of locations in the world named Perth.

DigitalGlobe places gazetteer list
Fig. 8.13.8

8. In the Gazetteer list I clicked on the first entry, for Perth, Australia. The Gazetteer window closes and the map zooms to the vicinity of Perth, Australia.

DigitalGlobe map of chosen location
Fig. 8.13.9: Map zoomed to choice of place

9. Next, in the Search Filter box to the right of the map, click Search to query for imagery tracks that intersect the map bounding box.
Wait for it... eventually you should get a new Catalog window that lists the imagery available for your selected area. Here’s what I got:

DigitalGlobe Catalog list of images
Fig. 8.13.10

In the Catalog list above, notice the variety of spacecraft (sensor “vehicles”), bands, dates, and maximum spatial resolution (Ground Sample Distance). Why do you suppose a maximum is given, rather than a single GSD value?

10. Clicking on an entry in the Catalog list turns it yellow and also highlights the area on the map covered by the selected image.

DigitalGlobe map showing area of selected image
Fig. 8.13.11: Yellow-highlighted image area

11. Finally, here’s what I received after clicking to View the most recent image listed.
You can zoom in or out by choosing from the Image Resize pick list.

DigitalGlobe view of selected image and metadata
Fig. 8.13.12

Maybe you’re wondering how much you’d have to pay to acquire that scene? You won’t find prices on DigitalGlobe’s web site. However, we were able to find a bootleg copy of DigitalGlobe’s price book with a simple web search. Or of course you can contact DigitalGlobe or an authorized reseller.

That’s it for our site visit. Hope you enjoyed it.

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