Digital Earth Watch (DEW) Software Overview:

Digital Earth Watch (DEW) software is a key part of the Global Systems Science curriculum. It  is available for free from the GSS website

The goal of the DEW unit is to enable students to understand what they are seeing in Earth images and analyze them qualitatively and quantitatively for changes in ecosystems over time, including effects of urban growth, fires, volcanic eruptions, etc. A complete set of satellite images accompanies the DEW unit for exercises, and the software tools can be used with ANY jpeg image files, so students would be able to do their own investigations after learning the basic principles.

Digital Earth Watch (DEW) software includes 
ABCs of Digital Earth Watch Software (student book), a Teacher Guide,
and 4 software programs:
  • ColorBasics
  • DigitalImageBasics
  • AnalyzingDigitalImages (which, as of Nov 2011, includes ForestAnalysis and VegetationAnalysis)
  • MovieTracker

DEW software and associated images can be downloaded from the
GSS DEW software download page.

DEW Software descriptions:

ColorBasics has tools for understanding:

  • the difference between color as pigment and color as light
  • how colors are created in a computer display
  • color spaces

DigitalImageBasics has tools for understanding:

  • the relationship between pixels and resolution
  • how camera colors are displayed on a computer screen
  • tools for analyzing color in images
  • the meaning of “false color” and
    representation of invisible wavelengths as visible colors.

AnalyzingDigitalImages has tools for:

  • enhancing and measuring color in images
  • measuring spatial elements in images
  • making color masks
  • analyzing time series of images

MovieTracker has tools similar to AnalyzingDigitalImages, but applied to movies instead of still images.

Software Requirements:

  • Programs that manipulate images require Quicktime 5 or later to be installed. 
    If not installed, download for free: Mac or PC.

  • All software programs are "zipped". You will need the proper freeware utilities installed on your computer.

  • Many programs, except the color programs, require a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768.

  • Download the proper software version for your computer: OSX (Mac) or Windows (PC).


SatCam is an app for iPhone and iPad, SatCam lets you capture observations of sky and ground conditions at the same time that an Earth observation satellite is overhead. It helps Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison to check the quality of the cloud products that they create from the satellite data. In return, they send you the satellite image that was captured at your location, anywhere in the world! SatCam supports the Terra, Aqua, and Suomi NPP satellites.

Carbon Works smartphone app by ecoPartners helps inventory forested property.

Links to More Advanced Image Analysis Software:

  • Multispec is a powerful, research level set of remote sensing visualization and analysis tools. Developed and supported by Purdue University. Separate programs for Macs and PCs. 
    The MVH team at Indiana State University have created a series of interactive, guided activities that use Multispec.

  • ImageJ was developed by the National Institute of Health to meet the medical field's visualization and analysis needs. Software is written in Java, which run on both Macs and PCs. 
    Studying change over time with satellite images: Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter, while another Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter gives an example of computing area from satellite images.

  • ICE: The Image Composite Editor is designed to be an easy first step into the realm of Earth system science, image processing, data analysis, and satellite remote sensing via your Web browser. This link takes you to guided activities as well as software downloading.