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The Big List Of Satellite/Aerial Imagery Analysis Software – A Through H

In the spirit of my previous “Big List” series on free GIS programs and free metadata programs comes the Big List Of Satellite/Aerial Imagery Analysis Software. While a few of these programs are general image analysis/manipulation programs, most are specifically designed to primarily deal with some aspect of displaying and analyzing satellite or aerial imagery. The posts will group applications alphabetically rather than by function, because they can be hard to classify by function, and also because it’s easier for me that way. Descriptions and feature sets come mainly from the application websites, with the occasional random note by me at the end.

There are a number of general purpose GIS programs that also include significant satellite/aerial imagery functionality, and I’ll include those in a separate post at the end of the series.

Chips For Windows

Chips, the Copenhagen Image Processing System, is a general-purpose software package for remote sensing image processing and spatial data analysis with extensive support for NOAA AVHRR data.

  • Multiple RGB/pseudocolor image views with both vector and raster overlays (ESRI shapes
  • Vector editing and digitizing
  • Image rectification
  • Image classification
  • Image statistics and visualization of statistics
  • Image arithmetics, filtering, profiles, semivariograms, principal components, scattergram and interpolation
  • 3D image visualization
  • Built-in scripting language

Note: No longer under active development.

CoastWatch Utilities – “The CoastWatch Software Library and Utilities is a package of software tools for working with earth data sets distributed by the NOAA/NESDIS CoastWatch program. The tools allow data users to easily manipulate and visualize data from the newer CoastWatch HDF files (local and network-accessible), the older CoastWatch IMGMAP files (.cwf extension), and NOAA 1b AVHRR. The CoastWatch Utilities have both graphical tools with a point-and-click interface and command-line tools for use in batch data processing scripts.”


A free GNU/GPL educational digital photogrammetric workstation.

  • Image Rectification
  • Interior Orientation
  • Exterior Orientation
  • Phototriangulation
  • Stereopair Normalization
  • Stereoplotting
  • D.E.M. and Orthorectification

Note: While program comes in an English version, the principal documention is only available in Portuguese.


Java-based general image analysis program.


A free and open source equivalent to the graphics editor Photoshop, albeit not as easy to use and not as many features. Interface is still tough to use; there’s an older version with an interface skinned to to look more like Photoshop, called GIMPShop.


The HDF-EOS To GeoTIFF Conversion Tool (HEG) is a tool developed to allow a user to reformat, re-project and perform stitching/mosaicing and subsetting operations on HDF-EOS objects. The output GeoTIFF file is ingestible into commonly used GIS applications. HEG will also write to HDF-EOS Grid & SWATH formats (i.e for Subsetting purposes) and native (or raw) binary. HEG presently works with MODIS (AQUA and TERRA), ASTER, MISR, AIRS, and AMSR-E HDF-EOS data sets.

  • Reprojection
  • Spatial (geolocation) Subsetting
  • Band and Parameter (aka Field) Subsetting of HDF-EOS datasets
  • Support for MODIS, ASTER, MISR, AIRS, and AMSR-E
    (Check List of Supported Products for full details)
  • Format Conversion of various output Format types: GeoTIFF, HDF-EOS GRID & SWATH, MultiBand GeoTIFF, Multi-Band HDF-EOS GRID & SWATH, and native binary.
  • Format Conversions without reprojection or manipulation of input data. Allows data to remain in original unaltered state.
  • Stitching (or mosaicing) HDF-EOS SWATH and GRID datasets
  • Stitching with combinations of Reformatting/Reprojection/Subsetting Operations
  • Data subsampling
  • Control of various parameters including output pixel resolution and output projection parameters
  • Metadata preservation and creation
  • Java GUI
  • Command-line interface (Useful for running batch jobs. This is usually seen in automated production environments where large quantities of granules are processed.)
  • Supported Platforms: LINUX, WINDOWS, SUN, SGI, and MAC OSX (built on Darwin Kernel Version 7.5.0)


The free trial version of GUI-based HighView is fully functional for band combination of 8- or 16-bit satellite imagery (e.g., global orthorectified Landsat 7 ETM+ imagery available at USGS GloVis and the Global Land Cover Facility, ASTER, SPOT, QuickBird and IKONOS), having no limitation on image size and output format. Stretched output in 24-bit BMP format and/or unstretched output in native GeoTIFF format can be readily used as base maps or backdrops in major GIS software, such as MapInfo and ArcGIS. Various options of linear and nonlinear stretches are allowed during the band combination.
The free trial version of GUI-based HighView has no expiry date.
For other modules, the trial version has the following limitations:

  • Pan-sharpening with local & global optimisation methods: The maximum size of input images is 32768*32768 pixels. Outputs will be limited to 24-bit BMPs only and watermarked with white stripes.
  • Maximum number of scenes to be processed in a batch mode is five.
  • Maximum size of input images for quantitative assessment modules is 128*128 pixels.
  • False-to-true colour simulation for G/R/NIR input is disabled.


HyperCube is a Macintosh and Windows application program (update information) specifically directed to the analysis and display of multi and hyperspectral imagery. This includes the static and dynamic display of the image cube and the generation of spectral classifications using both imagery and spectral libraries. In addition, HyperCube contains functions to filter, warp, mosaic, reformat, calibrate, combine, photogrammetrically project, stereo compile and to perform arithmetic on imagery and data.

Note: Has an excellent manual in PDF format, and sample data.

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9 Responses to “The Big List Of Satellite/Aerial Imagery Analysis Software – A Through H”

  1. 1 joelar

    Awesome post Leszek – most-times the Satellite/Aerial Analysis takes a back seat with what I’m usually busy with … this is a great help to keep me “in-the-know” w/ RS.

  2. 2 STH

    Great place to find new software to test!

  3. 3 Melaneum

    You might want to check the Orfeo Toolbox (OTB) as well:

  4. 4 markusN

    Not to forget about GRASS GIS with strong image processing capabilities (aerial, satellite, slassification, segmentation, Lidar, …):


    Module list:

  5. 5 Leszek Pawlowicz

    Absolutely; I include GRASS in the category of general GIS programs that have a significant image processing capability, and it’ll be covered in the final post in this series, coming soon.

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