Broad-scale survey of the abundance of colonial breeding penguins requires locating all, or the great majority, of colonies as the first of several survey stages. Given the remoteness of Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands, satellites offer obvious potential for such a task in this region. Past evaluations of the utility of satellites for the detection of penguin breeding sites are reviewed. Despite the obvious potential for such use, very few evaluation studies have been undertaken. The studies indicate great potential, but also caution on or allude to the need for further evaluation or consideration with respect to the following issues: spectral response of surrounding material, variability in the spectral response of guano due to environmental features, inadequate or ambiguous signal from guano, and spatial resolution of the technology and penguin breeding sites. Developments in satellite technology since the time of the studies will have alleviated some issues such as spatial resolution. Some directions for further evaluation work, and possible survey design options for addressing deficiencies in current satellite technology, are discussed. Some specifications of current satellite sensors that may be useful for this purpose are given.