Near Real-Time Satellite Imagery Being Launched by MapBox

Caitlin Dempsey


MapBox has announced that it will be launching MapBox Satellite Live later this summer.   Christ Herwig, who  leads the Satellite team at MapBox, says “Our goal is to have live imagery for publishing within 6 hours of an event, anywhere in the world“.  The program will enter a private beta testing program in early August for select MapBox partners. After that, the program will be made available (probably in the fall) for the general public.  Users will be required to sign up for a free MapBox account in order to purchase satellite imagery.

The post by Herwig about MapBox Satellite Live is short on details.  No information is provided on which satellites will be used to obtain imagery from or the resolution the imagery will be.  On Twitter, Herwig replied to an enquiry about using MapBox’s satellite imagery to estimate rooftop solar capacity in Australia, saying, “still ironing out imagery source details for mapbox satellite live.”  In the post on MapBox Herwig on states, “We are currently building out the direct pipeline from the satellites, optimizing the processing workflows to ensure that the imagery moves as quickly as possible from our network of satellites → ground stations →”

Satellite Live data pipeline from MapBox
Satellite Live data pipeline from MapBox

While there are public and free sources of satellite imagery available, those images typically take longer to become publicly available.  Landsat 8 satellite imagery has a turnaround of 24 hours.

This is the latest announcement from MapBox aimed at streamlining GIS data availability and its goal of providing expedited updates to provide more timely geographic information.  In May, MapBox posted that OpenStreetMap edits would be available within five minutes on MapBox.

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

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