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The purpose of content-based image retrieval (CBIR) is to retrieve, from real data stored in a database, information that is relevant to a query. In remote sensing applications, the wealth of spectral information provided by last-generation (hyperspectral) instruments has quickly introduced the need for parallel CBIR systems able to effectively retrieve features of interest from ever-growing data archives. To address this need, this paper develops a new parallel CBIR system which has been specifically designed to be run on heterogeneous networks of computers (HNOCs). These platforms have soon become a standard computing architecture in remote sensing missions due to the distributed nature of data repositories. The proposed heterogeneous system first extracts an image feature vector able to characterize image content with sub-pixel precision, and then uses the obtained feature as a search reference. The system is validated using a complex hyperspectral image database, and implemented on several networks of workstations at University of Maryland.