Long Term Archive
The NAPP collection includes black-and-white
top taken in 1995) and color infrared
(bottom taken in 1991) aerial photographs
at a scale of 1:20,000 as depicted by these
images of Boston, Massachusetts.
The National Aerial Photography Program (NAPP) was coordinated by the USGS as an interagency project to acquire cloud-free aerial photographs at an altitude of 20,000 feet above mean terrain elevation. The photographs were taken with a 6-inch focal length lens at a scale of 1:40,000. Coverage over the conterminous United States includes both black-and-white (BW) and color infrared (CIR) aerial photographs. Film type and extent of coverage were determined by available funds and operational requirements.
The NAPP program, which was operational from 1987 to 2007, consists of more than 1.3 million images. Photographs were acquired on 9-inch film and were centered over quarters of USGS 7.5-minute quadrangles.
The NAPP collection includes black-and-white and color infrared images.
Black-and-white (BW) panchromatic film is sensitive to the full visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum of light and captures images in tones of gray ranging from black to white.
Color infrared (CIR), or false color, film is sensitive to green and red in the visible portion of spectrum of light and extends into the near-infrared region of the spectrum. Vegetation is distinctly red to magenta in CIR images because vegetation is highly reflective in the near-infrared portion of the spectrum. CIR photography uses high-speed film that is subject to degradation prior to processing, which can create an overall blue cast to the image.
The scale of the image is the ratio of the distance on the image compared to the equivalent distance on the ground. An image with a scale of 1:40,000 means that one inch on the photo is equivalent to 40,000 inches on the ground. A 9 x 9-inch image with a scale of 1:40,000 (1 inch equals about 0.6 miles) covers an area of approximately 5.5 x 5.5 miles on the ground.
Aerial photographs are acquired by aircraft equipped with mapping cameras. The recording technique for the NAPP film collection is vertical photography, which is obtained with the camera pointed directly at the ground.
Flight lines for the NAPP program were flown in a north-to-south direction through the east and west halves of 7.5-minute quadrangles, also known as 1:24,000-scale topographic maps. Images are cartographic quality with a 60% overlap of images to allow for stereographic viewing with specialized equipment.
Commercial flight contractors were required to meet a stringent list of acceptance criteria in order to fulfill contract requirements. All photographs were manually assessed to ensure that they met the photographic, cartographic, coverage accuracy, and quality standards of the NAPP program.
Even though the images in the NAPP collection met contract requirements, users should note that the images have not been geocorrected. The images may havefeature displacement and scale variation caused by differences in elevation, lens distortion, and camera tilt. Since the medium and high resolution digital products are reproductions of aerial photographs, any geometric inaccuracies in the original photograph are carried over into the digital products.
Images available through GloVis meet acceptance criteria for the NAPP program. These images have been rotated to correct the orientation and cropped to eliminate the border.
EarthExplorer offers the entire NAPP collection, which includes accepted photography as well as any other frames on the roll of film. To view additional frames on a roll of film in EarthExplorer, set up a search for your area of interest then select the “View Entire Roll” icon by one of the images on the results page. Images have been captured as they appear on the roll of filmand may need to be rotated to adjust the orientation.
USGS EROS offers medium and high resolution digital products for the National Aerial Photography Program collection. Both products are stored in Tagged Image File Format (TIFF).
The medium resolution digital NAPP products were created with a digital single-lens reflex camera at a resolution of 63 microns, or 400 dots per inch (dpi). The file size for each 9-inch photograph is approximately 15 megabytes (MB) for a black-and-white image and 45 MB for a CIR image. These products can be downloaded through EarthExplorer or GloVis.
On-demand scanning is also available for NAPP film sources that are held in the USGS EROS film archive. EarthExplorer has a shopping basket icon on the results page for images that are available for photogrammetric quality scanning at 25 microns (1,000 dpi) or 14 microns (1,800 dpi). The file size for a 9-inch photograph scanned at a resolution of 25 microns is approximately 110 MB for a BW image and 330 MB for a CIR image. The file size for a 9-inch photograph scanned at a resolution of 14 microns is approximately 300 MB for a BW image and 900 MB for a CIR image.
The USGS Film Archive is being systematically scanned at a resolution of 25 microns beginning with film sources that are affected by vinegar syndrome degradation. High resolution scans of NAPP photography will be offered to the public at no charge after the work has been completed for older photography. USGS EROS is currently offering on-demand scanning services for NAPP photography to meet customer requirements for high resolution scanned images.
EarthExplorer or GloVis can be used to search, preview, and download medium resolution digital files at no cost. Existing high resolution images at 25 microns are also available for download at no cost.
For all other high resolution imagery, an order will need to be placed in EarthExplorer or GloVis to scan the film at $30.00 per frame. The collection is located under the Aerial Imagery category as NAPP.
In addition, aerial photographic reproductions and digital products for the NAPP collection can be ordered through the USDA Aerial Photography Field Office (APFO)
For information on how to cite USGS data plus guidance on usage restrictions,
please see our Data Citations and Use page at https://lta.cr.usgs.gov/citation.
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does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
Long Term Archive User Services
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
47914 252nd Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57198-0001
Phone Number: 605-594-6151
Toll Free: 800-252-4547
Business Hours: Monday thru Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Central Time