NASA Worldview Review

NASA Worldview, also called EOSDIS (Earth Observing System Data and Information System) Worldview, is an interactive satellite map from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), an independent agency of the US government.

The map can be accessed online and is free to use.

But is NASA Worldview any good? Is it intuitive for new users, or are there better alternatives that are easier to use?

In this NASA Worldview review, I will be exploring its features and more, so read on!

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Our Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

NASA Worldview is a government-operated site powered by highly accurate satellites from NASA and other governmental agencies. It is free to use and offers many features for viewing satellite imagery and tracking weather events.


  • It is entirely free to use.
  • There are multiple layers and events you can filter for.
  • The imagery is highly accurate.
  • You can download data.
  • You can view past satellite images and set up historical animations.


  • It can be a bit unintuitive and doesn’t have the most user-friendly interface.
  • It can be a bit slow and laggy. Expect parts of the map to load in parts at times.
  • There is no mobile app.

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NASA Worldview Overview

NASA Worldview is powered by NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System, which is part of NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems Program. It is one of the most powerful systems in the world for observing Earth data, and it uses data from satellites, aircraft, and other sources.

Worldview is an online software that can be accessed from any browser for free. It allows for in-depth visualization of Earth and weather data.

It is a government-run site.

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Worldview Features


When you first visit NASA Worldview, you will see several options for exploring Earth via interactive and engaging stories. For example, you can explore atmospheric rivers in the “Introduction to Worldview” story.

I chose to explore clouds, and NASA gave me a step-by-step lesson on clouds. It started with some facts about clouds, and the next part included an animation showing a real picture of Hurricane Dorian approaching Florida in 2013.

The lesson followed with other stories, facts, and interesting information.

You can explore the history of bushfires in Australia, Earth at night, and other stories by simply reloading the page to view all the available stories once again.

If you don’t want to keep seeing these stories when you reload the site, check the box that says, “Do not show until a new story has been added.”

That way, you won’t see this pop-up until new stories have been added. If you clear your browser cookies, though, it will show up again.

These stories are fun ways to learn about the world.

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NASA Worldview offers several layers that you can overlay on the map. There are two categories of layers: reference and base layers.

Layers are additional data that you can visualize on top of the map. Reference layers add additional references, such as names of countries, while base layers determine the actual images you will see.

Let’s go through the layers available on NASA Worldview.

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Place Labels

Place labels simply show the names of countries and oceans. The data comes from OpenStreetMap and Natural Earth.


This layer shows you coastlines, borders, and major roads. The more you zoom in, the more data you will see.

For example, if you want to see state borders, zoom in a little on the United States. If you zoom out, you will see country borders between the US and Canada and Mexico but not state borders.

There is another layer called Coastlines. This layer displays coastlines only, but not borders between countries, regions, and states, nor does it display roads.

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Corrected Reflectance

This base layer displays the true color of Earth on the maps.

Without this layer, the entire map will be black. If you want to check which regions are snowy or cloudy, for example, this layer will be helpful.

It shows you what the planet really looks like from the satellite view.

There are actually four versions of this layer; they may be slightly different, as they come from different sources and satellites. Let’s go over them really quickly:

  • NOAA-20 and VIIRS: The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) 20 is a satellite that is part of the Joint Polar Satellite System run by the US government. VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) is a sensor that collects images from Earth and is used on the NOAA-20.
  • Suomi NPP and VIIRS: The Suomi NPP (National Polar-Orbiting Partnership) is a weather satellite operated by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It also uses the VIIRS sensor.
  • Aqua and MODIS: Aqua is a research satellite operated by NASA. MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) is a sensor that measures Earth and climate measurements. There are two MODIS sensors in orbit, one of them being on the Aqua satellite.
  • Terra and MODIS: Terra is another satellite from NASA in orbit. The second MODIS sensor in orbit is on this satellite.

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Layer Comparisons

With so many sources, how can you compare the satellite images from each one? Fortunately, there’s no need to keep toggling them on and off and switching back and forth from one version to another.

NASA Worldview offers a useful comparison feature for this purpose. You can create two versions of Worldview and decide which layers should be active on either one.

While there are several ways to compare layers, I like the “swipe” mode, which allows you to display two versions side by side and swipe back and forth from one layer to another. This mode is shown in the screenshot above.

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The events tab gives you information about recent weather events around the world. There are several categories of events:

  • Dust and haze
  • Sea and lake ice
  • Man-made
  • Severe storms
  • Snow
  • Volcanoes
  • Water color
  • Wildfires

A small icon will appear on the map at the location where each event occurred. You can click on it for more information.

In addition, you will be given a list of the most recent events, such as tornadoes, iceberg-related events, fires, and more, in a list.

You can filter for events based on event category and other filters.

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Downloading Data

NASA Worldview has a useful tool that allows you to download data for various layers, such as:

  • Aerosol index
  • Fires and thermal anomalies
  • Corrected reflectance
  • And others

The data is powered by NASA’s Earthdata Search application. You will be redirected to the Earthdata Search website to complete your download.

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Measuring Distance and Area

You can measure distances between points on the map by using the measuring tool located at the bottom-right of the screen. It kind of looks like a ruler, and I’ve pointed it out in the screenshot above.

If you’re using the distance measurement tool, draw a line from point A to point B. If you’re using the area measurement tool, create a shape by clicking on different points of the map.

You can create all kinds of unique shapes to measure the area inside those shapes.

History, Animations, and Snapshots

At the bottom of the screen, you will notice a timeline. You can click the back button to go back a day and view the satellite images from the previous day; you can always go forward by clicking the forward button.

You can also simply select a point on the timeline to skip to that date.

It’s a great way to see how weather patterns have been changing over the past few days, weeks, or months.

You can also set up an animation. Do that by clicking on the video icon at the bottom of the screen (it’s not visible when the data download option is open).

You can then set up an animation in daily, monthly, yearly, or custom increments. There is also the option of changing the frames per second and some other options.

Once you are done with the setup, play the animation.

You can also take a screenshot using the snapshot tool at the top-right of the screen, which looks like a camera icon. There are options for adjusting the resolution, format, coordinates, and more.

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NASA Worldview is one of the most accurate satellite maps. It is powered by the best satellites in orbit, such as Terra and Aqua, and it is supported by the government.

It is entirely free to use, with accurate information about recent weather-related events around the world. You can switch between images from different satellites, take screenshots, and even set up animations.

It is highly customizable, although it does take a bit of time to learn how to use it. Although the stories are helpful and interesting, the web application itself is a bit unintuitive and involves a bit of a learning curve.

Nevertheless, it’s worth putting the time in to play around with the different options. You’ll get the hang of it in no time.

There is no mobile app, but you can use it in your mobile browser. The experience won’t be the same, but it still works.

All in all, I highly recommend NASA Worldview for satellite imagery.

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.