Press Release

Space Imaging’s IKONOS Imagery Used For USDA’s Natural Resources Inventory in Alaska

By SpaceRef Editor
June 27, 2005
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United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a contract to Space Imaging to provide high-resolution IKONOS satellite imagery of Alaska for the USDA’s Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) program. This program serves as the federal government’s principal source of information on the status, condition and trends of soil, water and related resources in the United States. For the first time ever, the USDA will use a combination of archive and newly tasked IKONOS satellite images to map and apply NRI primary data elements to inventory land use, evaluate loss of farmland to urbanization, measure the effectiveness of conservation practices and detect changes to the landscape from soil erosion.

“In the past, we have mainly relied on aerial photos and people in the field for our inventory. However, the high-resolution quality of the IKONOS images provides us with a more accurate mapping product which saves us time and resources,” said Ted Cox, state GIS coordinator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “The information we collect with the IKONOS imagery will give us a future reference on which we can compare and register changes. Once we have this in place, most of data elements can be collected with remote sensing so that field visits can be limited.”

The inventory process has a longer cycle in Alaska due to the difficult logistics of acquiring data in its remote regions. IKONOS has been initially tasked to capture images of 38 contiguous areas of interest. An additional 350 areas of interest will eventually be acquired. Some areas captured by IKONOS allow the NRI to cluster samples and view two to three primary sample units at one time, which enables it to maximize its return on investment.

“Alaska’s unique landscape and remoteness make it an ideal area where satellite imagery can significantly assist in assessments,” said Jim Roper, director of sales at Space Imaging. “Using IKONOS images improves the USDA’s ability to inventory, monitor and assess the status and trends of our nation’s natural and environmental resources.”

The NRI is a statistical survey of land use and natural resource conditions and trends on U.S. non-federal lands. As part of its urban assessment program, the NRI can determine how much land has been gained or lost over a period of time. The NRI program is responsible for inventory of privately-held urban land including crop land and range land, and to conserve and sustain natural resources in the 50 states and U.S.-owned territories.   

IKONOS satellite images used in the NRI showing Alaska’s Little Susitna River are available for publishing at The images show the transitional zone between the timbered uplands and the inter-tidal wetlands near the mouth of the Little Susitna River, a major salmon stream in South Central Alaska.

About Space Imaging

Space Imaging is the premier provider of satellite imagery enabling businesses, governments and individuals to better map, measure, monitor and manage the world in which we live. Based near Denver, Colo., Space Imaging radically transformed the Earth information market when in 1999 it launched IKONOS, the world’s first commercial high-resolution imaging satellite. Today, Space Imaging’s products are the cornerstone of the remote-sensing industry. The company supplies the highest quality, most accurate, visual information about the planet’s changing natural and cultural features. Space Imaging’s customer-centric business lines include imagery from satellites, geospatial solutions for the defense and intelligence community, and direct access to its satellites for corporations and governments. It is a privately held company with partners, resellers and 14 affiliate ground stations around the world. Space Imaging is a member of the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. For more information on products and services, please visit

SpaceRef staff editor.