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Understanding Ground Sample Distance (GSD) in Drone Data Acquisition

What is Ground Sample Distance (GSD)?

Ground Sample Distance (GSD) is a critical factor in drone data and imagery. It represents the distance between two consecutive pixel centers measured on the ground. In simpler terms, GSD indicates the spatial resolution of the image – the smaller the GSD value, the higher the image resolution and detail.

Why is GSD Important?

Knowing about GSD is crucial for several reasons:

  • Project Planning: Helps in accurately planning and budgeting for your project, as higher resolution images (lower GSD) require more flight time and may cost more.
  • Quality Assurance: Ensures the data collected meets the specific requirements of your project, enabling precise measurements and analyses.
  • Efficiency: Understanding the trade-offs between GSD, area coverage, and cost can lead to more efficient project planning and execution.

How GSD Works

The GSD is influenced by the altitude of the drone during the flight and the camera's sensor size and characteristics. Lower flights result in lower GSDs (higher resolution), while higher flights offer higher GSDs (lower resolution) but cover larger areas.

Ordering Drone Data with GSD Considerations

When ordering drone data from Globhe, consider the following:

  • Project Requirements: Determine the level of detail necessary for your analysis. Projects requiring detailed measurements (e.g., infrastructure inspections) may need lower GSDs.
  • Budget and Timeline: Higher resolution data collection is more time-consuming and potentially more expensive. Doubling the resolution (e.g., from 2.5cm GSD to 1cm GSD) can more than double the time and cost due to the increased data volume and processing requirements.
  • Area of Interest: Larger areas may necessitate a compromise on GSD to ensure timely and cost-effective data collection.


Understanding GSD and its implications on drone data collection is essential for making informed decisions tailored to your project's needs. By considering GSD in your planning process, you can balance detail, coverage, time, and cost effectively. Globhe is committed to providing you with the necessary guidance and support to optimize your drone data acquisition projects.

Click here to download samples of GSD images from drones


Andreas Nordansjö
Chief Marketing Officer
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