May 16, 2017 10:56 AM   Subscribe

so i live on/near the water and am fascinated with exploring on satellite imagery prior to physical nautical adventure (owing to having a small boat and littlish kids). there doesn't seem to be any once you wander a mile from the coast..... or does there?

as i've begun to expand my search area out much further (say 20+ miles from shore) i have started to come across lots of dumping sites for the military, government, dredging permit dumps etc all indicated on standard marine charts. now, i DONT want to go there in my boat per se (as it's semi illegal) but i DO want to look at pictures from SPAAACE of the areas. i immediately noticed that as you wander from the coast there aren't satellite images available of the wide waters of the worlds oceans. i supposed i can understand that its boring and featureless. except its not. water depths up to 20-30' easily show bottom features from satellite imagery. and i am SURE that the pictures are being taken. hard to imagine them NOT, right, xfiles and the whatnot?

so, the question: am i missing a data source which actually has real satellite imagery of the oceans and not just a formless blue with bathysphere ridges occasionally rendered in? if it helps i am particularly interested in the gulf of mexixo. and if you are REALLY curious, i am looking for the site found on this website which can be found by zooming in and clicking on the green pin west of tampa bay. it's precisely 20NM from the anna maria, FL land mass.
posted by chasles to Science & Nature (6 answers total)
NASA (SPAAAACCCEEE!) does have imagery available at their EOSDIS site. It doesn't have terribly high resolution (i.e. you can't see a lot of detail when you zoom in) which I'm guessing is because of technology (or security?) limitations. You do get some lovely pictures of the algal blooms in the Gulf.
posted by hydrobatidae at 1:39 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

hydrobatidae: It's a technology limitation, for example the MODIS (MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument on Terra has a maximum resolution of 250km at nadir. What MODIS lacks in resolution it makes up for by covering the globe every 1 to 2 days. I think the EOSDIS site you recommend is the best space-based ocean observation I can think of.

I found this Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas from NOAA, but I don't think it's space-based observations. I also searched on "ocean disposal tampa" in the NOAA Data Catalog and came up with 256 results, none are images, but maybe the data will be useful. Maybe look at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center and see if there is anything useful for you?
posted by Rob Rockets at 6:52 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]

thanks for the excellent resources. neither really has the level of satellite photographic detail i want, but all excellent stuff.
posted by chasles at 6:46 AM on May 17

Many of the high resolution images on Google Maps, etc. are actually aerial photos from planes. Google Maps just calls them "satellite" for whatever reason. That might account for the difference of level of detail that you looking for.

Also, I've been pleasantly surprised with the quality of satellite/"satellite" images from Bing maps. Make sure to check out the "birds eye" mode too, which are aerial photos taken at an angle.
posted by TomFoolery at 8:55 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

for posterity neither bing (which i prefer for the reasons you stated) nor google has that quality of image over water. its just formless blue.
posted by chasles at 11:38 AM on May 17

I'm not sure this is what you want but I just read about this very detailed bathysphere map of the Gulf of Mexico.
posted by bondcliff at 6:16 PM on May 24

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