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In its simplest form, a raster consists of a matrix of cells (or pixels) organized into rows and columns (or a grid) where each cell contains a value representing information, such as temperature. Rasters are digital aerial photographs, imagery from satellites, digital pictures, or even scanned maps.

Data stored in a raster format represents real-world phenomena, such as

Thematic and continuous rasters may be displayed as layers along with other geographic data on your map.

While the structure of raster data is simple, it is exceptionally useful for a wide range of applications. In ArcGIS Explorer the uses of raster data as layers may be categorized as follows:

To add raster data to the map
On the Home tab, in the Map group, click Add Content and then click Raster Data.... You'll see a dialog you can use to browse for raster data.

ArcGIS Explorer supports the display of many raster formats, including: Imagine image (.img), bitmap (.bmp), JPEG (.jpg, .jpeg), Portable Network Graphics (.png), Graphics Interchange Format (.gif), Tagged Image File Format (.tif, .tiff), ARC/INFO and Space Imaging BIL (.bil), ARC/INFO and Space Imaging BIP (.bip), ARC/INFO and Space Imaging BSQ (.bsq), DTED Level 0-2 (.dted), ERDAS 7.5 LAN (.lan), ERDAS 7.5 GIS (.gis), JP2 (.jp2), MrSID (.sid), RAW (.raw), NTIF (.ntf), USGS ASCII DEM (.dem), X11 Pixmap (.xpm), PC Raster (.map), PCI Geomatics Database File (.pix), JPC (.jpc), J2C (.j2c), J2K (.j2k), HDF (.hdf), BSB (.kap).