Frequently Asked Questions

Mapping, Remote Sensing, and Geospatial Data

The USGS provides the mapping and digital geospatial foundation for the Nation.

Filter Total Items: 356
HI Honolulu US Topo (Browse Image for Story Map)
The field entitled "Topo Map Name"; indicates the name of a USGS standard topographic map. If the map name is known and entered in this field (data may be entered in other fields also), the query will return the features that are wholly or partially located on the map (and that meet the other query parameters). Note that map names frequently are...
Satellite image showing mining in North Dakota.
Pixelation is an artifact of the browse generation process and is common for scenes that are located over flat, low-contrast areas, such as water, sand and snow. The actual data will not appear this way.
Image shows a satellite view of Guadalupe Mountains National Park after a wildfire
LandsatLook images are full-resolution .jpeg files that are included as options when downloading Landsat data from EarthExplorer, GloVis, or via the LandsatLook Viewer. These are useful for simple visual interpretation without the need for specialized software. LandsatLook products include: LandsatLook "Natural Color" Image (3-band composite)...
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Drone)
Yes, flight approval is required. The USGS receives flight approval from the Federal Aviation Administration prior to every unmanned aircrat systems (UAS) mission. The official document is referred to as a Certificate of Authorization and Waiver. It is the approval process by which the Federal Aviation Administration allows for public agencies to...
Image: Raven Unmanned Aircraft.
Training for USGS UAS operators is provided by the Department of the Interior Office of Aviation Services. It has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and is specific to the types of UAS that the department operates. The training provides operators with the skills and knowledge necessary to operate a small UAS in the National...
UAV - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle used to remotely collect data used in hydrologic studies.
All data are processed and used in support of mission-specific research objectives. The vast majority of the resource management and scientific data will be archived for long-term use and placed in the public domain.
Unmanned Aircraft System
The Department of the Interior (DOI)--which includes the USGS--has taken the following actions related to privacy: Operating UAS primarily over DOI lands. Obtaining written permission from land owners when UAS operations need to launch and/or land on their property. Following standard FAA and DOI approved procedures for aircraft operations (...
 The mapping team in front of the old Coast Guard Station at Cape Cod National Seashore. Left to right: Michael Klinker, Connor
The USGS small UAS missions to date include estimating migratory bird populations (sandhill cranes and sage grouse), monitoring impacts of dam removal and erosion on rivers (Elwha and Glines dams, and Missouri River), surveying surface mines (West Virginia), locating and mapping abandoned solid waste (Mojave National Preserve), and assessing park...
A USGS AeroVironment RQ11 Raven unmanned aircraft.
The USGS unmanned aircraft systems activities focus on two small UAS acquired from the Department of Defense, the 4.4-pound AeroVironment Raven aircraft and the 20-pound Honeywell T-Hawk hovercraft. These small UAS are designed to support short (90 minute) missions, and operate on rechargeable batteries or gasoline. Small UAS can be relatively...
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Ignites Controlled Fires
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) provide an affordable solution when the USGS needs "eyes in the sky" but doesn’t have the budget to maintain a fleet of aircraft or to obtain commercial imagery.  The USGS relies on a variety of remotely sensed data. Manned aircraft flights are often not feasible due to safety concerns associated with long flights,...
An unmanned aircraft or drone flying.
The USGS Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office and the Office of Aviation Services are leading the development and testing of UAS scientific and resource management technology across the Department of the Interior in coordination with the other bureaus. Department of the Interior UAS capabilities support a range of activities including...
In the past, each USGS topographic map typically required 3 individual lithographic stones for printing, one for each color show
You can order the good old-fashioned paper versions of the state by state indexes of USGS topographic maps online from the USGS Store. The indexes are free, but there is a $5 handling charge for an order. You can also interact with these index maps in this area of the USGS Store. Double-click on an index and double-click a few times to zoom in and...