Quite through chance I just happened to stumble upon the USGS New EarthExplorer, and I’m really quite impressed. Remote sensing is a field that is almost entirely based around new technology: satellite sensors, computer processing techniques and so on, but for ages actually acquiring the data has been an exercise in frustration.
Much as the interface of various alternative tools such as GloVIS look alright at first glance, but then have loads of little annoyances when you try to actually use them. From my (admittedly limited) experience so far, the New EarthExplorer seems to solve many of these issues.
When you browse to the website you enter a location (in pretty much any form) and it shows you a Google Map of the area. You can then select a date range for images, then various different imagery archives (Landsat 4/5, Landsat 7 SLC-on and Landsat 7 SLC-off). A list of images is then shown, and – here comes the key bit – you can then overlay the images on the Google Map. This really helps when you’re trying to find a number of images that cover the same area, particularly if your area of interest is near the edge of an image.
Once you’ve chosen your image a quick click of the download button will start the download of a zip file containing the image.
Simple, easy and quick – and, in my opinion, far better than the previous offerings.