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Leverage our platform for impactful science in academia and nonprofits

Scientific integrity, excellence, and innovation are part of our core values at Descartes Labs. We believe that advancing the understanding of human activity and natural processes throughout the world is in the interest of all stakeholders. As a result, we are willing to put our Platform and resources behind efforts to demonstrate this.

Through our platform, researchers can access petabytes of data from numerous satellite constellations in a consistent and standardized format through a simple API—pre-processed into either top or bottom-of-atmosphere reflectance.

Update: Please note that we will review applications for the next round of interested academic and nonprofit users starting April 1, 2021. In the meantime, please review the resources on our website and the frequently asked questions section below. If you are interested in access to our platform, please fill out the form below, and if you have additional questions please reach out to us at:

Selection criteria

We look for impact science and academic partners. Specific considerations include the proposed project and the composition of the technical team. Partners should be willing and able to:

  • Provide feedback based on their experience with the Platform, helping Descartes Labs improve the platform for future research teams
  • Share certain details and outcomes of the research in Descartes Labs’ marketing efforts, including co-branded social media posts and conversations with the media

Example use cases

Our simple but powerful programmatic interface enables a rich range of capabilities and use cases. Here are a few:

  • Create a single composite image for an arbitrary geographic area from your chosen date range of imagery
  • Retrieve a time stack of imagery and analyze how your area of interest changes over time
  • Run machine learning classifiers to segment your data (e.g. to create land cover classifications)
  • Run computer vision models to identify objects in imagery such as wastewater treatment plants or solar panels
  • Display before/after imagery of deforestation due to illegal harvesting or mining operations
  • Construct a time series of statistics from imagery such as NDVI for Iowa or total area of rice paddy fields in Vietnam


Our platform exposes over 13 petabytes of imagery alongside other remotely sense and geographic data by means of python APIs that enable quick access to data that has been processed to be analysis-ready. We’ve developed a cross-sensor atmospheric compensation algorithm as well as a cross-sensor cloud mask and are continuing to invest in improving the experience of working with our data. We’ve also developed a scalable compute capability that lets users easily run analytics on multiple nodes. Our web GUIs allow real-time viewing and analysis of any of our geospatial data, including any analyses that you create on our platform.

All partners will receive full access to:

  • Landsat 4/5/7/8
  • Sentinel 1/2/3/5P
  • Shuttle Radar Topography Mission
  • NAIP
  • Texas Orthoimagery Program
  • Cropland Data Layer

Frequently Asked Questions

The Descartes Labs Platform is the collection of our Data Refinery, our Python APIs for analyzing geospatial data, and a hosted JupyterLab interface. Through the Data Refinery, we provide petabytes of analysis-ready geospatial data and the ability to ingest and process third-party data. You can find more information about the Descartes Labs Platform on our website. Further, this set of short videos provide brief introductions to each component of our platform as well as some example analyses that can easily be done on it. Also, this recording of a webinar about our platform provides a more extended explanation about our platform  with example use cases.

Any user from a not-for-profit organization can apply for platform access through Scientific Programs, including students, academic researchers, or non-profit organizations. Commercial users who are interested in access should contact

Applications will be vetted by Descartes Labs based on how likely the project will be to succeed within 1-2 years.  Projects should be self-contained with a clear end goal, and the applicant should have at least some experience with both Python and remote sensing.

We can grant you free trial access for up to 6 months. This period is intended for you to assess how useful the Descartes Labs Platform is for your project and does not include licensing to publicly share results of your analyses done on the platform (e.g. in blog posts or scientific publications). At the end of the trial period, we can discuss on a case-by-case basis an extension of access and licensing rights (to publish and share your work) through a paid engagement or, potentially, a co-marketing agreement.

During the first 6 months of the trial access, you’ll be limited to 1 TB of storage per month and 1000 compute units. Beyond that, a paid engagement under a discounted pricing for nonprofit and academic users can include additional storage and computing resources.

The Descartes Labs Platform is geared toward geospatial data, including both vector and raster data. Academic & research users will have access to data from the European Space Agency, NASA, NOAA, and other government agencies, as well as derived datasets like the Cropland Data Layer from the USGS. Please check this list of the Standard datasets to which our Scientific Programs users have access — note that all of these datasets are already stored on our platform and therefore do not count towards the 1 TB storage limit.

Yes! Users can upload their own ancillary datasets including satellite imagery from commercial vendors that they have access to. When you upload your own data, only you will have access to it.

Scientific Programs’ users own any content and/or materials that they upload and/or produce, provided that users may only use content developed on the Descartes Labs Platform for their internal use and/or non-commercial use.   We also ask that users cite their use of the Descartes Labs Platform in any publication  that they produce (see following question).

We’re excited to support your work and ask that you cite us in return! Please cite as: “Descartes Labs, Inc (2020)

Please send us an email with your questions at If you are interested in requesting access to our platform, please fill the form linked below. We look forward to hearing from you!


If you are interested in access to our platform, please fill out the form below, and if you have additional questions please reach out to us at

Please note that we will review applications for the next round of interested academic and nonprofit users starting April 1, 2021.