Five tips to help you interpret a satellite image

We often feature some of the amazing images from the NASA Earth Observatory on our site, and they’ve recently published a post that gives some additional insight on how learn more about any satellite imagery that you come across.


Their main tips include:

  • Look for a scale: Sometimes the big picture can be more important than high-res details.
  • Look for patterns, shapes, and textures: Even clouds can give clues to the landscape below.
  • Define colors: Different satellite instruments can ready colors differently, so be aware of what you’re looking at.
  • Find north: If the image is in Google Earth, either built-in or using an image overlay, finding north is as easy as pressing the letter “n” on your keyboard. ¬†However, if you find other imagery online you may have to be careful as north isn’t always at the top of the image.
  • Consider your prior knowledge: If you already know what happened in an area (recent fire, for example) it can make it easier to determine what you’re looking at.

It’s a great article, so click here to read the full entry on the Earth Observatory site.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Thanks for the quick tips I was able to find my house!

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