Satellite images are photographs of the earth captured by satellites orbiting the planet. Satellites that are equipped to take pictures do so by capturing light reflecting back from the earth. When that light data is digitised, it can be processed into an image.

Satellite imagery is a form of remote sensing, the process of collecting data through high-flying aircraft or satellites, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. Remote sensing is one of several geospatial technologies. Others include geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS) and internet mapping technologies.

Non-profit and humanitarian organisations are increasingly using geospatial technologies to conduct disaster damage assessment,create maps to enhance and assist humanitarian responsecarry out environmental monitoring, and monitor and evaluate development programmes.

The Engine Room produced a guide that focuses on the use of satellite imagery to monitor and investigate human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.

It is designed for human rights organisations that are starting to think about using satellite imagery in their work.

For more information on the guide, please visit