Discover Planet Imagery in QGIS

last updated: November 10, 2021


Planet imagery refers to images acquired by Planet’s SkySat, PlanetScope & RapidEye constellations. It also includes open imagery archives like images acquired from LandSat & Sentinel satellites.

The search, stream and download capabilities for Planet imagery are organized in the Planet Imagery Search Panel in QGIS that can be pulled up by selecting the magnifying glass icon from the Planet QGIS Plugin Toolbar.

Search for Imagery

To search for imagery, the only required field is an area of interest (aoi), or alternatively a specific Image ID. On the Planet Imagery Search Panel there are multiple options for selecting an area of interest: e.g., selecting the current map extent, the extent of all active layers in your QGIS map, drawing a specific area of interest, or using a selected feature to define a polygon aoi.


Once an area of interest has been set, you can directly search for Planet imagery within QGIS. To further refine your search results, select the “Filter Results” tab to the left of the “Search” button on the Search Panel.

This will open a new panel just for refining your imagery search filters. E.g., you can specify a min/max cloud cover threshold, a time of interest, a specific satellite constellation, etc.


Once you are happy with your filters, simply press “<- Back” from the top-left and then “Search” from the Imagery Search Panel. This will return a list of images that match your search criteria.


Planet QGIS Plugin users can save their search, which will preserve search filters and search AOI, by selecting the save icon above the search results. This may be helpful and save time if you find that you're replicating the same search many times.

Give your search a name and specify if you’d like to remove the start or end date. Removing the end-date, for example, will make sure that your saved search applies to new imagery as it becomes available.

Save searches are portable across the Planet Platform. i.e., Saving a search in QGIS will allow you to access that same saved search in Planet Explorer, and vice versa.


Inspect Search Results

Imagery search results are grouped by date and product type. You can explore your search results even further by selecting the drop-down arrows to the left of each result. This will show each individual image that is included in that date & product result group.

Pro Tip: By selecting the settings gear icon above the search results, you can adjust the default metadata fields that are displayed for each individual image so that you can inspect each result in greater detail and display the metadata most important to your curation.


Stream Preview Imagery

QGIS Plugin users can stream preview images into their QGIS map by selecting the “Add preview layer to map” icon right of each search result. We refer to these image tiles as “previews” because they are “browse” quality tile layers that are not full-resolution or full-bit depth and don’t contain any multi-spectral information.

QGIS Plugin users can also stream multiple results to their QGIS map as preview layers by selecting each result and then clicking the “Add all preview layers to the map” icon above the search results.

Download Imagery

Planet QGIS Plugin users can download Planet imagery directly within their QGIS workflows. Ordering & downloading imagery will provide access to full bit-depth, multi-spectral geotiff(s) for your selected imagery scenes.

To place an Imagery Order, select the images you’d like to download from the Image Search panel using the check-boxes left of each image. Then select “Order” from the bottom-right of the Imagery Search Panel.

This will pop open an Order Imagery window in QGIS. This will pop open an Order Imagery window in QGIS. This window will walk you through 3 steps to download your images. This order checkout process is new to the Add-In with V2.1.

Step 1.) Name your Order. Give your order a name, and optionally if the default asset selection on the right hand side is what you’d like to order, you can go ahead and click Order and be done at Step 1.

Step 2.) Select Assets. Select from a list of “rectified assets,” or expand the “Show More” drop down list to select “unrectified” assets.

Step 3.) Tools & Review. Review your order by screening the selected thumbnails, and optionally select to “clip” your images to your AOI(s). Clip in the QGIS Plugin now supports arbitrary polygons as well as multipolygons, so long as the vertices count is less than 500. Note clipping is not supported on un-rectified assets.


Once an order has been placed you can monitor your order and download it (once available for download) from the Order Status Panel. The Order Status Panel will include orders for imagery scenes & Basemap quads. Once an imagery scene is available for download a “Download” button will be available for the Order. If you’ve already downloaded an order before, there will be an option to “Re-Download”. You can also “Open order folder” which will open the file location you originally downloaded the imagery to.

The Order Status Panel in 2.1+ will also include metadata about your order, including the Order ID, which will link out to the Planet's Order Status page where you can find even more details about your Order Status and inspect issues if any occur.


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