Landsat 8 | Lake Burdur and Acıgöl, Turkey Lake Burdur and Acıgöl, Turkey · Landsat 8 

The new Landsat 8 imagery from USGS is amazing. We’re using the Aegean Sea and the western part of Turkey as a test area to look at adding it to MapBox Satellite, because the region has many interesting textures visible at Landsat 8’s 15 meter (50 foot) resolution.

The first images captured by Landsat 8’s Operational Land Imager (OLI) sensor are everything we hoped for – even in this early data, with clouds and seams and only preliminary color treatment, these features leap off the screen. What you’ll see below are examples of the kinds of things that we ooh and aah about in the office as we’re testing out new imagery.


Update: The demo that supported this post is no longer available.

This is the archaeological excavation of the ancient Hittite city of Wilusa, better known as Troy, site of the Trojan War. It’s in modern-day Çanakkale province, Turkey. To the west is the Karamenderes river, which the Iliad refers to as the Scamander. Even without the connection to the Homeric poems, Troy would be an important archeological dig, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Update: The demo that supported this post is no longer available.

Istanbul started as a settlement at a vital crossroads – where the Black Sea connects with the Mediterranean and Europe connects with Asia. Its strategic position brought it wealth and culture from the entire Old World. It’s been the capital of four empires, and the destination of both the Silk Road and the Orient Express. Today it’s one of the largest cities in the world. This view shows the center of the city, with the First Bosphorus Bridge to the south and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (or Second Bosphorus Bridge) to the north.


Update: The demo that supported this post is no longer available.

This is a typical small city (population 70,000) on the Thracian Plain of Greece. To its southeast is a sectioned-off industrial area with some bright red roofs. The green pocket just outside town to the northwest is the campus of Democritus University of Thrace. A branch of the nearby river used to run through the city, but it was prone to flooding and therefore was diverted in the 1970s – exactly the kind of land-use change that Landsat is good at tracking.

Open from the start

This data is all free and public domain, made available by a joint initiative between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA. You can download a Landsat 8 image and put it on a map right now – although I should warn you that the raw image files are a bit unwieldy if you aren’t used to large rasters.

The oldest of the images above is from just a few weeks ago, making this one of the most up-to-date medium-resolution satellite maps out there, and 400 new scenes flow into the archive every day.

All of us down here on earth are lucky to have Landsat 8 up there producing so much high-quality imagery. We on the satellite team feel particularly fortunate that we can get our hands dirty and start putting this lovely imagery to work. You’ll see more posts from us – that’s Chris (@hrwgc) and Charlie (@vruba) – as we find applications and techniques worth sharing.