How to search for imagery

last updated: April 25, 2022

This section goes over how to search for imagery by either typing into a search bar, creating an area of interest (AOI) on the map, or using the timeline at the bottom of the screen. Please note: you must have an area of interest (AOI) drawn to search for daily imagery. You can use the timeline to search through basemaps.


You can Search for any location or a specific area of interest (AOI) by using the search box (similar to a search engine). If you are searching using the search bar, you will find the Search Bar is located at the top left of the screen.

When you type a location you are interested into the Search Bar, the map view will zoom to that location, and an Area-of-Interest (AOI) bounding box will appear on the map view. Once you have a bounding box drawn, the search results will appear in a panel on the left hand side.

Creating an Area of Interest (AOI) on the map

You can search for imagery by specifying an area on the map, either by drawing a geometry or uploading a geo file (Shapefile, JSON, GeoJSON, KML, WKT, GPX, DBF, SHX, PRJ, ZIP).

On the map, you will see tools stacked in the bottom right corner of the Explorer interface. The top-most tool in the stack is the Area-of-Interest (AOI) tool. If you hover over this icon, you'll see a tool tip to Draw or upload a geometry. Once you click on the tool, you will see a menu of options for creating an AOI. The tooltip will change as you float over each icon in the group.

From left to right, the tools are:

  • File importer allows you to upload a geo file into Explorer. Clicking on the Upload Tool will open a file system browser window, allowing you to navigate to your file. You can upload more than one file to Planet Explorer, but if multiple polygons are found, Explorer will automatically simplify the shape of your geometry. Supported file types include shapefile, GeoJSON, JSON, Keyhole Markup Language (KML), Well Known Text (WKT), GPX, DBF, SHX, PRJ, and ZIP files.
  • Constrained Circular AOI draws a circle with a maximum area of 50,000 sqkm. The area will vary by the latitude of the center coordinate.
  • Constrained Rectangular AOI draws a rectangle with a maximum area of 50,000 sqkm. The area will vary by the latitude of the center coordinate.
  • Custom AOI draws a polygon of your choice.
  • Circular AOI draws a circle of any size.
  • Rectangular AOI draws a rectangle of any size.

  • Note that when clicking on these tools to use them, the active tool that you are using turns teal. This will change depending on the active tool you are using at the time.

Selecting on the Time Slider & using the Imagery Picker Tools

If you have not yet drawn an AOI, you can view basemaps over time by clicking through the timeline. If you have drawn an AOI, you can view your search results by clicking the timeline.

Along the bottom of the browser window, you should see a long time slider bar with dots indicating time intervals:

The months of the year are selectable, and when you click on one, it highlights with a bigger white halo, and the map changes to show imagery from that month.

On the far right, bottom corner is a scroll list with three options:

  • Quarterly Basemap changes the time slider to show 3-month increments of each year
  • Monthly Basemap changes the time slider show each month of the year
  • Weekly Basemap changes the time slider to show each week of the year. This also includes bi-weekly basemaps
  • Daily Imagery creates a prompt to Click on the map to search for daily imagery by drawing an area of interest (AOI)

On the far left, bottom corner is a scroll list with options for which basemaps you have access to. Clicking the up and down carrots next to the scroll list changes the type of imagery visible on the map view.

Please note: If you do not have access to imagery, you will see a lock icon. You can purchase access to this imagery by contacting Planet's sales team.