A mosaic dataset is a new geodatabase data model for the management and access of small to vast collections of imagery and rasters. Mosaic datasets are catalogs of imagery that store references to imagery, while ingesting and storing all associated metadata and enabling the definition of processing functions that should be applied to the imagery. Such functions can include simple processes to enhance or clip images or more complex processes such as orthorectification, pan-sharpening, or color correction.
A mosaic dataset can be directly accessed in all ArcGIS applications with all required processing being applied to the imagery as it is accessed. Mosaic datasets enable the implementation of dynamic mosaicking and on-the-fly processing. The dynamic mosaicking provides easy access to overlapping imagery, while the on-the-fly processing converts the data to the required form. As an alternative to viewing the imagery, the mosaic dataset can be viewed as a catalog of footprints with associated attributes and metadata, making it suitable for rapid image query and discovery. Mosaic datasets enable access to imagery both as a backdrop to applications or as pixel value suitable in analysis to maximize the value of imagery.
The tools to author and edit mosaic datasets are available in ArcGIS Desktop (ArcEditor or ArcInfo). Mosaic datasets can be served as image services through ArcGIS Server and the Image Extension, making all the on-the-fly processed imagery accessible to a very wide range of desktop, Web, and mobile applications.