Contributor: Jeffrey Gillan

Other Names:

None known

Agency/Company Operating the Sensor

Commercially operated by DigitalGlobe


Launched in 2001, Quickbird is a high spatial resolution spaceborne sensor capable of panchromatic imaging at .61 cm. The sensor also has 4 multispectral bands with resolutions of 2.44 m at nadir. The imagery can sufficiently distinguish man-made features on the landscape and serve as an excellent base map for GIS applications. Regarding rangeland management, Quickbird imagery has primarily been used to classify vegetation types on a fine scale.

With Quickbird imagery and most other high spatial resolution commercial sensors, image acquisition can be expensive. Quickbird is a “tasking satellite” meaning it only gathers data on-demand and does not constantly image and archive the earth. Previously acquired Quickbird images are stored in DigitalGlobe’s archive and can be purchased. Acquiring archived data is considerably less expensive than tasking, but may be limited depending on your area of interest and specific date requirements. Another potential drawback to QuickBird imagery is that its high resolution can be challenging to work with for very large (e.g. , bigger than 50,000 ac) landscapes.

Similar Sensors

GeoEye 1,

Sensor Specifications

Describe the sensor specifications such as spectral bands and wavelengths (e.g., in a table)

Spectral Bands/Wavelengths

Quickbird imagery is recorded by the sensor in 11-bit radiometric precision (values from 0 to 2047), but is delivered in 8-bit (0 to 255) and 16-bit (0 to 65,535) products.

Band Resolution Wavelength µm Description
1 2.44m (nadir) 0.450-0.520 Blue
2 2.44m (nadir) 0.520-0.600 Green
3 2.44m (nadir) 0.630-0.690 Red
4 2.44m (nadir) 0.760-0.900 Near Infrared
Pan 0.61 (nadir) 0.450-0.900 Panchromatic

Image footprint or swath width

Swath width is 16.5 km at nadir Tasked scene sizes are customizable and determined by the user

Image resolution

Because Quickbird is a positionable satellite, the resolution of the imagery will depend on how far off of nadir the satellite is looking.

Return Interval

450 km orbit altitude, sun synchronous, 1 to 3.5 days depending on latitude and off-nadir angle


2001 to present

Cost, Acquisition, Licensing

There are costs associated with Quickbird imagery. Products can be purchased directly from DigitaGlobe or one of its many resellers. Use this link to explore both options: http://www.digitalglobe.com/purchase

Products from DigitalGlobe come in three processing levels:

  • Basic – Only radiometric distortions and internal sensor adjustments have been made to the data. Products are ordered by the scene (16.5 km x 16.5 km).
  • Standard –Georectified and delivered in map projection. Area based ordering, meaning you have to specify your area of interest.
  • Orthorectified – GIS ready with geometric and topographic correction, and delivered with a map projection. Area based ordering, meaning you have to specify your area of interest.

Standard Product prices:

  • $14/km2 for 3 bands or panchromatic images
  • $17/km2 for 4 bands

3 bands or panchromatic:

  • Select: $25/km2
  • Select Plus-$40/km2
  • Assured-$60/km2
  • Single shot-$80/km2

4 bands

  • Select: $28/km2
  • Select Plus-$43/km2
  • Assured-$63/km2
  • Single shot-$83/km2

Tasked orders will also have a minimum area – typically 100 km2. Quickbird is commercial imagery and its use and redistribution is restricted by licensing agreements. Ordered image can be retrieved from an FTP site or send through the mail on CD or DVD. When the image is purchased from DigitalGlobe, the level of licensing is selected specifying how many groups and customers are allowed to use the image.

Complete information on Quickbird products, specifications, tasking, and licensing can be found in this PDF document. http://www.digitalglobe.com/downloads/QuickBird-DS-QB-Web.pdf.

Image format

From DigitalGlobe, Quickbird imagery can be obtained in a Geotiff format making it user friendly for geographic information systems such as ArcGIS and common image processing software. Alternatively, images can be in NITF 2.1 or NITF 2.0, a format primarily used by the intelligence and military communities.

Examples of Rangeland Uses

  • Laliberte et al (2006) used Quickbird imagery along with an object oriented classification approach to map to shrub and grass communities at a very fine scale.
  • Everitt et al (2004) used Quickbird imagery to identify infestations of giant reed and spiny aster in riparian and rangeland area of south Texas.
  • Roder et al (2007) identified areas of high grazing pressure with the help of Quickbird and Landsat-TM imagery.
  • Weber et al. (2006) compared classification of Quickbird imagery to hyperspectral classifications for mapping leafy-spurge infestations in southern Idaho.

Software/Hardware Requirements

Quickbird images usually come in a user friendly Geotiff format, which is preferred because of its easy integration with GIS platforms like ArcGIS and image processing programs such as Erdas Imagine and ENVI. Geotiff images often come as one band per file. For the purposes of making it easier to handle, manipulate, and display the imagery, most people combine all of the separate image bands into a single, multi-band image file using an image-processing package. The size of the files will depend on the extent of the scene, but because of its fine resolution Quickbird data can be very large (1 GB or more).

Additional Information


  • Everitt, J.H., Yang, C. 2004. Using Quickbird satellite imagery to distinguish two noxious weeds in southern Texas. Proceedings of 10th Forest Service Remote Sensing Conference Conference, Bethesda, Maryland. 2004 CD-ROM.
  • Jenson, John R. (2007), Remote Sensing of the Environment: An Earth resource perspective, second edition, Prentice Hall series in geographic information science, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
  • Laliberte, A., Rango, A., Fredrickson, E. (2006), Rangeland mapping; ease classification with an object-oriented approach and satellite imagery Earth Imaging Journal 3(1):30-32.
  • Roder, A., T. Kuemmerle, J. Hill, V. P. Papanastasis, G. M. Tsiourlis (2007), Adaptation of a grazing gradient concept to heterogeneous Mediterranean rangelands using cost surface modeling, Ecological Modeling, 204, pp. 387-398.
  • Weber, K. T., Glenn, N. F., Mundt, J. T., & Gokhale, B. (2006). A comparison between multi-spectral and hyperspectral platforms for early detection of leafy spurge in southeastern Idaho. In K. T. Weber (Ed.), Final report: Detection, prediction, impact, and management of invasive plants using GIS (pp. 186–196). Greenbelt, MD: NASA.

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