Declassified Intelligence Satellite Photographs



The declassification at the end of the last century of over 900,000 photographs acquired by the corona, argon, lanyard, gambit and hexagon US photo reconnaissance satellite programmes between 1960 and 1980 has resulted in an archive of declassified intelligence satellite photographs (DISP) that is both global in scale and easily accessible. As a source of low-cost, relatively high-resolution satellite imagery, the DISP archive is being used extensively by archaeologists to investigate landscapes in the arid regions of Asia Minor and the Middle East, as well as in more temperate regions. In this chapter, the nature and archaeological uses of the various DISP products are described, and representative examples are provided in order to permit the reader to appreciate their archaeological potential.


Camera System United States Geological Survey Frame Camera Launch Site Archaeological Feature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This chapter is dedicated to the memory of the late Ernest Fowler, 1920–1998. Special thanks are due to Rog Palmer for his critical comments, to Jeff Hartley of NARA for providing copies of CREST records and to Linda Hathaway of the Information Access and Release Team at the NRO for providing copies of original records relating to the corona, argon and lanyard programmes.

Since preparing this chapter, technical details of the gambit and hexagon camera systems have been declassified by the NRO and confirm the descriptions provided above. Details can be found at


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Les RocquettesSouth WonstonUK

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