What Is the Difference Between Satellite Imagery and Aerial Photography?

satellite imagery vs aerial photography

Satellite imagery and aerial photography can both give you a clear image of the planet Earth, from above. You can use images from both outlets to study geography and survey land. However, the process of creating the digital images from them is different, so is the application of the images, at times.

Nevertheless, satellite images often have a greater large-scale application and are mostly useful for scientific studies. Aerial photography is best applied for commercial small-scale use.

Here is a look at both processes in detail:

Aerial Photography

This is the production of photographic images from airplanes, helicopters, balloons. The images are often used for mapping. It costs less, and most of the time the images are up-to-date.

However, earlier on, pigeons equipped with automatic cameras were used so were biplanes in WWI, to capture photos of enemy trenches.

This technique of capturing images from above was commercialized after WWI and has since been used for government and civil applications.

Features of aerial photography

  • It often covers a small area, 10-100 sq.km and is taken from an altitude of 100-1000 meters
  • Since it is an analog record, there is no further improvement that can come from them after the photos have been obtained
  • You can obtain a high degree of details from the terrain you are capturing
  • Snapshots are often taken by photographic films and cameras
  • It takes a stereo view of the terrain
  • The surveys are very costly and can be affected by bad weather

Advantages of aerial photography

  • It is a better choice for most businesses and an ideal choice for personal commercial use
  • Aerial photography costs less and is always up-to-date in most cases, covering recent changes or development
  • You can hire an aerial photographer either as an individual or small business operator and have a say or some input in the whole process
  • The resolution and clarity of the images from this image capturing technique are likely to be higher and of quality. This makes it easier to understand the captured photos, eliminating the need for special analysis

Satellite Imagery

This term, satellite imagery refers to types of digitally transmitted images often taken by artificial satellites orbiting the planet Earth. The images are often used for mapping, archeological surveys as well as environmental monitoring and weather predictions.

Moreover, modern technology has also made it easier to collect some of these satellite images via apps. Such mobile-friendly apps can notify you when an imaging satellite is taking your photo, as well as allow you to task high-resolution satellites to take new images.

You can also find an app with satellite images of Earth, with on-demand access to some of the latest commercial satellite imagery.

Agencies that often make use of such imagery are government and educational institutions, as well as large corporations.

Features of satellite imagery

  • Covers a very large area, 3500-30,000 sq.km and are taken from 600-900km
  • Images are often taken digitally, meaning they can be improved or enhanced
  • The surveys here are repetitive and not constrained by the weather but clouds can conceal some information available on NIR bands
  • Compared to aerial photography, its survey often costs less
  • The reconstruction of radiance value is usually done over a region by a series of detectors each gathering data over small pockets of the entire region
  • Satellite imagery is never capable of providing stereo-views, though such capability can be attained from satellite altitudes
  • When compared to aerial photographs, the details are usually fewer as they are restricted to the pixel resolution of the sensors

Advantages of satellite imagery

  • It can be used to keep track of weather systems, especially dangerous elements like hurricanes
  • Since the satellite circles the Earth, the imaging activity can be repeated with ease
  • Covers a wide area
  • Given that all information collected is digital, being integrated with software is easy
  • Most cases the cloud cover does not affect the results or what is being collected/captured

image credit: pixabay

Posted by Biodun

Passionate about Technology and everything concerning it. Avid Gamer and Music Lover. Loves Chelsea FC. Overall, a nice guy. Find me on Instagram and Twitter.

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