Amazon Web Services offers free satellite imagery

Applications on AWS can now draw Landsat imagery directly from the cloud service

The Esri ArcViewer allows users to zoom in and explore Landsat imagery

The Esri ArcViewer allows users to zoom in and explore Landsat imagery

Amazon Web Services is offering its customers free use of over 85,000 satellite images, setting the stage for new types of geographically-oriented cloud applications.

The images, from the Landsat 8 observation satellite, are already available at no cost directly from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which oversees the Landsat program. But the public agency isn't in the position to offer the data for high-volume use by third-party applications, which means developers have had to spend considerable time and resources creating ways to download, store and prepare the data for use.

"Because the imagery is available on AWS, researchers and software developers can use any of our on-demand services to perform analysis and create new products without needing to worry about storage or bandwidth costs," said Jed Sundwall, Amazon open data technical business manager, in a blog post.

The Landsat imagery is probably the most comprehensive publically available set of satellite images of the earth. It covers the entire globe and is frequently updated. It is widely used across a variety of fields, including regional planning, surveillance, agriculture, cartography, geology, forestry, and education.

A number of AWS customers are already using Landsat imagery for their own services, according to Sundwall.

Geographic information systems software vendor Esri uses the dataset to demonstrate the capabilities of its ArcGIS Online viewer. MathWorks AWS Public Data Sets, a collection of free data accessible to applications on AWS.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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Joab Jackson

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