Demystifying satellite data pricing: A comprehensive guide

By neub9
3 Min Read

Purchasing satellite data has become easier than ever. Only a few years ago, it was extremely challenging for anyone other than government clients to source data, but the process has since undergone significant improvements. Multiple marketplaces now empower users to buy archived data or task satellites to capture new imagery quickly and conveniently. Options exist for all budgets, with open-source data of low resolution accessible for free from the Landsat and Sentinel constellations, and high-resolution data available commercially from vendors such as Airbus, Planet, and others.

Understanding satellite data pricing and what to expect when buying it can be difficult. Key providers have come up with various pricing models, including credits, subscriptions, and fixed prices, but obtaining a clear picture can be challenging. Several data products and pricing models are available, depending on the buyer’s needs. These can be broken down into four different categories:

1. Pay-as-you-go model
This popular pricing model allows customers to purchase satellite imagery data as and when they need it, without needing to commit to a long-term contract. This model suits the majority of users, making it cost-effective for smaller projects or customers with a limited budget. Pay-as-you-go data is easily accessible from satellite providers’ websites or through marketplaces.

2. Subscription model
Customers can access a wide range of data for a fixed recurring fee with a subscription, ensuring predictable costs for consistent access to satellite data.

3. Basemap
This is the simplest and least expensive option, but may be insufficient for advanced uses, typically used for web applications that display satellite data as a background option for maps.

4. Government and enterprise contracts
Tailored contracts for government institutions or large enterprises can include advanced features and data access.

Understanding factors that influence satellite data costs is crucial when analyzing pricing models. The price per km² remains a common denominator and baseline, with higher resolution data costing more. Marketplaces provide a convenient way to buy data under the pay-as-you-go model, offering access to satellite data from multiple vendors.

Choosing the right option for satellite data depends on factors such as resolution, timeliness, area covered, and the selected data provider. Although the choices can be overwhelming, marketplaces provide a user-friendly platform where customers can find the option that suits their requirements, making purchasing satellite data more accessible than ever.

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