In this guide
Last Updated: October 4, 2023
Find out who is eligible for access to commercial satellite imagery and how PGC determines access and use.
Introduction to PGC Imagery
U.S. federally-funded researchers at a U.S. institution and federal employees are eligible to request and use satellite imagery from Maxar for their research projects.
PGC supports projects associated with NSF Office of Polar Programs and NASA Cryospheric Sciences, as well as selected other projects affiliated with NASA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the University of Minnesota.
Commercial satellite imagery is available to researchers and support personnel through the EOCL license, an agreement between NRO and Maxar Technologies.
The license allows U.S. federally-funded researchers and U.S. federal employees access to imagery from the Maxar constellation of satellites for their research or logistics goals.
Maxar owns five operational satellite imaging systems of the pushbroom sensor type orbiting 500-800km above the Earth.
Related Guide: MAXAR Satellite Constellation
Unlike aerial campaigns, the satellites are always collecting and can acquire imagery of any location in the world.
For more information, visit Maxar’s website
Can I Access PGC Imagery?
Although all federally-funded researchers from a U.S. institution may use Maxar imagery from NRO under the EOCL license, PGC is funded to support only a subset of those users.
PGC currently serves as a distribution point for polar and cryosphere imagery to projects funded by NSF’s Office of Polar Programs and NASA Cryospheric Sciences. PGC previously served as a distribution point for the NASA Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE).
Other agencies, for example the US Geological Survey (USGS), have arranged access to the same imagery through other channels.
If you are not sure if you are eligible to receive PGC imagery, inquire with PGC User Services to see if we can support your project.
Required User Information
The following list is information PGC expects to receive from users when communication begins:
- First and last name
- U.S. federally-funded program award number (NSF, NASA, US FWS, NOAA)
- Primary email
- Address (office preferred)
Much of this information is captured when you have an account with us. If you are looking to request commercial imagery, an account and valid awards are required. Read more in the PGC User Account guide.
Related Guide: Working with PGC
For imagery requests, PGC requires information on the location of your area of interest, background on the purpose for which the imagery will be used, and details of any constraints on acquisition date or spectral type (for example, panchromatic or multispectral data).
If your ideal processing parameters are already known, such information is also very helpful.
Related Guide: Imagery Processing Options
Answers to some questions .
- I have an award from a U.S. federal agency. Am I automatically eligible to receive imagery from PGC?
- It depends on the source of your funding and your affiliation to a U.S. institution. PGC supports NSF Office of Polar Program awards and NASA Cryospheric Science awards to grantees from a U.S. institution, as well as selected other projects having independent agreements with PGC.
- I have an award that PGC supports. Can I also get non-polar, non-cryosphere data?
- PGC has limited access to non-polar imagery. If the award under which you are eligible to receive data from PGC requires such data, contact your PGC point of contact to determine if PGC can support your request.
- Why can’t I just download imagery directly from your website?
- The imagery from Maxar is licensed under the National Reconnaissance Office EOCL license. Therefore, PGC must accurately verify our users and funding source(s) to determine eligibility.
- Can I continue to use Maxar imagery I received from PGC once my award expires? Can I use it for other projects?
- No. The EOCL license stipulates that researchers may use these data for the purpose of their federal award only during the time period during which the award is active.
If you have more questions, use the comment thread (must be logged in) on this Guide or send us a message.
In this Guide, we’ve covered:
- U.S. federal funding requirement for access to PGC imagery
- Governance of the NRO EOCL license
- Funding agencies PGC supports
- Required information for verification
- Answers to common questions