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Declassified Satellite Imagery 2 (2002)

Metadata Updated: December 6, 2023

Declassified satellite images provide an important worldwide record of land-surface change. With the success of the first release of classified satellite photography in 1995, images from U.S. military intelligence satellites KH-7 and KH-9 were declassified in accordance with Executive Order 12951 in 2002. The data were originally used for cartographic information and reconnaissance for U.S. intelligence agencies. Since the images could be of historical value for global change research and were no longer critical to national security, the collection was made available to the public.

Keyhole (KH) satellite systems KH-7 and KH-9 acquired photographs of the Earth’s surface with a telescopic camera system and transported the exposed film through the use of recovery capsules. The capsules or buckets were de-orbited and retrieved by aircraft while the capsules parachuted to earth. The exposed film was developed and the images were analyzed for a range of military applications.

The KH-7 surveillance system was a high resolution imaging system that was operational from July 1963 to June 1967. Approximately 18,000 black-and-white images and 230 color images are available from the 38 missions flown during this program. Key features for this program were larger area of coverage and improved ground resolution. The cameras acquired imagery in continuous lengthwise sweeps of the terrain. KH-7 images are 9 inches wide, vary in length from 4 inches to 500 feet long, and have a resolution of 2 to 4 feet.

The KH-9 mapping program was operational from March 1973 to October 1980 and was designed to support mapping requirements and exact positioning of geographical points for the military. This was accomplished by using image overlap for stereo coverage and by using a camera system with a reseau grid to correct image distortion. The KH-9 framing cameras produced 9 x 18 inch imagery at a resolution of 20-30 feet. Approximately 29,000 mapping images were acquired from 12 missions.

The original film sources are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Duplicate film sources held in the USGS EROS Center archive are used to produce digital copies of the imagery.

Access & Use Information

Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

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Metadata Created Date November 12, 2020
Metadata Updated Date December 6, 2023

Metadata Source

Harvested from NASA Data.json

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date November 12, 2020
Metadata Updated Date December 6, 2023
Identifier C1220567575-USGS_LTA
Data First Published 2019-09-20
Language en-US
Data Last Modified 2019-03-25
Category geospatial
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 026:00
Metadata Context
Metadata Catalog ID
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Citation Archived by National Aeronautics and Space Administration, U.S. Government, DOI/USGS/EROS.
Harvest Object Id e401d188-c517-49fa-a1c6-1b67dae0644a
Harvest Source Id 58f92550-7a01-4f00-b1b2-8dc953bd598f
Harvest Source Title NASA Data.json
Homepage URL
Metadata Type geospatial
Old Spatial -180.0 -90.0 180.0 90.0
Program Code 026:001
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash c26a72b3c47e34d53120bcec2cf488fd07a4f63d776e098aaa14656735ed4d8f
Source Schema Version 1.1
Temporal 1970-01-01T00:00:00Z/2022-01-17T00:00:00Z

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