SAR Data and GIS

Types of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Products at ASF

ASF product types and processing levels

Processing TypeProcessing LevelImage TypeProduct DescriptionOpen-source softwareCommercial software
Raw DataL0, L1.0, RAWUnfocusedUnprocessed signal data. Requires a SAR processor to be visualized.ISCEENVI SARscape
GAMMA
Single Look Complex (SLC)L1.1, SLCFocused (single look); has speckleContains amplitude and phase values. Retains slant-range geometry.ASF HyP3
Sentinel-1 Toolbox
PolSARpro
ENVI SARscape
GAMMA
AmplitudeL1, L1.5, GRD (Ground Range Detected)Focused (multilooked); reduced speckleCan be visualized. Contains amplitude values only. Retains slant-range geometry. Projected to ground range coordinates.ASF HyP3
Sentinel-1 Toolbox
ASF MapReady
ENVI SARscape
GAMMA
Corrected amplitudeGeoTIFFGIS-compatibleImage has had georeferencing applied.QGISArcGIS
Corrected amplitudeRadiometric Terrain Correction (RTC)GIS-compatibleImage has had radiometric and terrain correction applied.QGISArcGIS

ASF Datasets – Formats and Files

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    ALOS PALSAR

    FormatProduct NameProduct FilesProcessing LevelOpen-source ToolsCan Be Used For
    CEOSL1.0LED, IMG, VOL, TRLRawN/AProduction of higher-level products
    CEOSL1.1LED, IMG, VOL, TRLSingle Look ComplexSentinel-1 Toolbox, PolSARproInterferometry
    CEOSL1.5LED, IMG, VOL, TRLAmplitude imageMapReady, ASFView (part of MapReady), Sentinel-1 Toolbox, PolSARproVisualization

    ALOS PALSAR RTC

    FormatProduct NameProduct FilesProcessing LevelOpen-source ToolsCan Be Used For
    GeoTIFFHi-Res Terrain Correctedtif, jpg, xml, kmz, wldGeocoded AmplitudeQGIS, Graphics viewing softwareVisualization; GIS-compatible
    Low-Res Terrain Corrected

    Sentinel-1

    FormatProduct NameProduct FilesProcessing LevelOpen-source ToolsCan Be Used For
    SAFEL0tif, xml, xsd, kml, html, png, pdf, safeRawN/AProduction of higher-level products
    GeoTIFFL1 SLCSLCASF HyP3, Sentinel-1 Toolbox, PolSARproInterferometry
    L1 Detected High-Res Dual-PolL1 Georeferenced AmplitudeASF HyP3, Sentinel-1 ToolboxVisualization
    L1 Detected High-Res Single-PolASF HyP3, Sentinel-1 Toolbox
    L1 Detected Mid-Res Dual-PolASF HyP3, Sentinel-1 Toolbox, PolSARpro
    L1 Detected Mid-Res Single-PolASF HyP3, Sentinel-1 Toolbox
    NetCDFOCNnc, xsd , kml , html, png, pdf, safeL2Sentinel-1 Toolbox, PanoplyPolSARproOcean wind, wave and currents

    UAVSAR PolSAR

    FormatProduct NameProduct FilesProcessing LevelOpen-source ToolsCan Be Used For
    UAVSARGround Projected Complexgrd, annGeoreferenced AmplitudeMapReady, PolSARproVisualization
    Multi-Look Complexmic, annMLCPolarimetry
    Ground Projected Complex, 3X3grd, annGeoreferenced AmplitudeVisualization
    Ground Projected Complex, 5X5Visualization
    Compressed Stokes Matrixdat, annAIRSAR compressed stokes matrixPolarimetry
    GeoTIFFPauli DecompositiontifMLC polarimetric decompositionQGIS; graphics viewing softwareVisualization; GIS compatible
    GeoTIFF HeightDEMQGISDEM
    KMZGoogle Earth KMZkmzKML compressedGoogle EarthVisualization

    UAVSAR RPI

    FormatProduct NameProduct FilesProcessing LevelOpen-source ToolsCan Be Used For
    UAVSARAmplitudeamp1, amp2, annAmplitudeMapReady, PolSARproVisualization
    Ground Projected Amplitudeamp1.grd, amp2.grd, hgt.grd, annGeoreferenced Amplitude
    Interferogramint, unw, cor, annInterferogram
    Ground Projected Interferogramcor.grd, hgt.grd, int.grd, unw.grd, ann
    KMZGoogle Earth KMZamp1.kmz, amp2.kmz, cor.kmz, hgt.kmz, int.kmz, osr.kmz, unw.kmzGoogle Earth

    AIRSAR TOPSAR

    FormatProduct NameProduct FilesOpen-source ToolsCan Be Used For
    AIRSARC-band DEM and Compressed Stokes Matrixc.corgr, c.demi2, c.vvi2MapReady, PolSARproPolarimetry
    L-band Compressed Stokes Matrixl.datgr
    P-band Compressed Stokes Matrixp.datgrPolSARpro

    AIRSAR PolSAR - AIRSAR ATI (Experimental)

    FormatProduct NameProduct FilesProcessing LevelOpen-source ToolsCan Be Used For
    AIRSAR3-Frequency Polarimetryc.dat, l.dat, p.datCompressed stokes matrixMapReady, PolSARproPolarimetry
    JPGAlong-Track Interferometry*intf*, *uwScc*, *az*, *uwWrp*, *uwWcc*, *uwWrp, *par, *pppSLC, MLCN/AOcean current velocity measurement

    ERS-1, ERS-2, JERS-1, RADARSAT-1

    FormatProduct NameProduct FilesProcessing LevelOpen-source ToolsCan Be Used For
    CEOSL0D, L, P, kml, jpgRawN/AProduction of higher-level products
    L1AmplitudeMapReady, ASF View (part of MapReady), Sentinel-1 ToolboxVisualization

    Seasat

    FormatProduct NameProduct FilesProcessing LevelOpen-source ToolsCan Be Used For
    HDF5L1 HDF5h5, xml , kml , jpg, qc_reportAmplitudeMapReady, QGISVisualization; GIS-compatible
    GeoTIFFL1 GeoTIFFtif, xml, kml, jpg, qc_reportGeocoded amplitudeQGIS; graphics viewing software

    SMAP

    FormatProduct NameProduct FilesProcessing LevelOpen-source ToolsCan Be Used For
    HDF5L1A Radarh5, xmlL1AN/AProduction of higher-level products
    L1A Radar Receive Only (experimental)Passive radiometry
    L1B S0 LoResL1BPanoply, HDFViewSoil moisture / freeze-thaw state mapping
    L1C S0 HiResL1C

    Datasets Available from ASF DAAC

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      Unrestricted SAR Datasets

      These data are freely available and may be downloaded by anybody with an Earthdata Login username and password.

      Dataset NameSensor PlatformMission DatesFind DataUsage ExamplesSpatial Coverage
      ALOS PALSARSatellite2006 - 2011Vertex Data SearchASF Search APIBroad applications: glaciers, landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes, oil seeps, wetlands, sea ice, and more.The Americas, Antarctica, select wordwide sites
      SAR Sensor: L-band
      Repeat Cycle: 46 days
      Products: L1.0 raw, L1.1 single look complex (SLC), L1.5 Georeferenced amplitude image, Hi-res RTC image, Low-res RTC image
      Sentinel-1Satellite2014 - PresentVertex Data SearchASF Search APIBroad applications: volcanoes, earthquakes, glaciers, land subsidence, sea ice, flooding, oceans, and moreGlobal
      SAR Sensor: C-band
      Repeat Cycle: 12 days
      Products: L0 raw, L1 single look complex (SLC), L1 ground-range detected mid-res single-pol (GRD-MS), L1 ground-range detected high-res single-pol (GRD-HS), L1 ground-range detected mid-res dual-pol (GRD-MD), L1 ground-range detected high-res dual-pol (GRD-HD), L2 ocean (OCN)
      UAVSARAircraft2008 - PresentVertex Data SearchASF Search APISelect locations: oil spills, earthquakes, volcanoes, oceans, land cover, and moreTargeted worldwide sites
      SAR Sensor: L-band
      Repeat Cycle: Non-applicable
      Products: Single look complex (SLC), multi-look complex cross products, compress stokes matrix, ground-projected calibrated cross products, DEM
      ERS-1Satellite1991 - 1997Vertex Data SearchASF Search APIPolar regions and processes (sea ice, Arctic, Antarctic)Primarily polar, within station masks of the ASF and McMurdo ground stations
      SAR Sensor: C-band
      Repeat Cycle: 35 days
      Products: L0 raw, L1 amplitude image
      ERS-2Satellite1995 - 2011Vertex Data SearchASF Search APIPolar regions and processes (sea ice, Arctic, Antarctic)Primarily polar, within station masks of the ASF and McMurdo ground stations
      SAR Sensor: C-band
      Repeat Cycle: 35 days
      Products: L0 raw, L1 amplitude image
      AIRSARAircraft1990 - 2004Vertex Data SearchASF Search APISelect locations: oceans, coasts, forest ecology, geology, hydrology, earthquakes, archeaology, and moreSelected sites worldwide
      SAR Sensor: L-band, P-band, C-band
      Repeat Cycle: Non-applicable
      Products: Along-track interferometry, 3-frequency polarimetry, L-Band compressed stokes matrix, P-Band compressed stokes matrix, C-Band DEM and compressed stokes matrix
      SeasatSatellite1978Vertex Data SearchASF Search APIPortions of northern oceans and land (the first NASA SAR mission; data processed by ASF in 2013)Regions of Northern Hemisphere, including oceans and N. America
      SAR Sensor: L-band
      Repeat Cycle: 3 days at launch; 17 days after mid-August
      Products: L1 image, GeoTIFF
      SMAPSatellite2015 (3 months)Vertex Data SearchASF Search APISoil moisture and freeze/thaw state (detailed data from 3 months in 2015). Benchmark data for flood, landslide, and drought monitoring; agricultural planning; and climate forecastingGlobal
      SAR Sensor: L-band
      Repeat Cycle: 3 days
      Products: L1A_Radar, L1B_S0_LoRes, L1C_S0_HiRes, L1A receive only

      Restricted SAR Datasets

      Permission to access and download these data requires that a user meet the following conditions:

      • The data will be used for non-commercial, research purposes only
      • The user is currently living in the United States

      A Restricted Data Use Request form must be submitted.

      Dataset NameSensor PlatformMission DatesFind DataUsage ExamplesSpatial Coverage
      JERS-1Satellite1992 - 1988Vertex Data SearchASF Search APIImportant forests of the world: Southeast Asia, Africa, Central America, South America (Amazon Basin), and boreal North America.Global
      SAR Sensor: L-band
      Repeat Cycle: 44 days
      Products: L0 raw, L1 amplitude image
      RADARSAT-1Satellite1995 - 2008Vertex Data SearchASF Search APIArctic sea ice and other broad applications: volcanoes, ocean winds, ecology, soil moisture, wetlands, flooding, and more.Global
      SAR Sensor: C-band
      Repeat Cycle: 24 days
      Products: L0 raw, L1 amplitude image

      Derived SAR Datasets

      These higher-level datasets were created using ASF SAR data.

      Dataset NameSensor PlatformMission DatesFind DataUsage ExamplesSpatial Coverage
      RAMP
      RADARSAT-1 Antarctic Mapping Mission
      Satellite1997 and 2000ASF WebsiteHistoric, high-resolution map of Antarctica: ice-sheet morphology, rock outcrops, research infrastructure, coastline, and more.Antarctica
      SAR Sensor: C-band
      Products: Tiles, mosaics
      Post-RAMP Antarctic MosaicsSatellite2004 and 2007ASF WebsiteAntarctic ice sheets (emphasis on velocities): Drygalsky Ice Tongue (David Glacier), Thwaites Glacier, and Pine Island Glacier.Select Antarctic ice sheets
      SAR Sensor: C-band
      Products: SAR mosaics, glacier velocity files
      Sea Ice MEaSUREsSatellite1995 - 2012ASF WebsiteArctic Ocean sea ice motion with three-day radar snapshots as the ice goes through dramatic changes over 11 years.Arctic Ocean
      SAR Sensor: C-band
      Products: Lagrangian, 3-day gridded, and Eularian data files
      Terrestrial EcologySatellite2007 - 2010ASF WebsiteEcological research.Select sites in Western Hemisphere
      SAR Sensor: L-band
      Products: GeoTIFFimetric images
      Wetlands MEaSUREsSatellite1993 - 2009ASF WebsiteWetlands ecology, including their role in climate, biogeochemistry, hydrology, and biodiversity.Amazon, Alaska, the Americas, global (coarse resolution)
      SAR Sensor: L-band
      Products: Fine-resolution, 100-meter maps of wetland extent, vegetation type, and seasonal inundation dynamics for continental-scale areas covering crucial wetland regions; global, 10-day mappings of inundation extent at ~25-km resolution; interactive time-series tool and time-series animation; GeoTIFF

      Optical Datasets

      These data are freely available and may be downloaded by anybody with an Earthdata Login username and password.

      Dataset NameSensor PlatformMission DatesFind DataUsage ExamplesSpatial Coverage
      ALOS AVNIR-2 ORISatellite2006-2011Vertex Data SearchASF Search APISpatial coverage maps for land and coastal zones; monitoring regional environmentsGlobal
      Sensor: Visible and Near-Infrared Radiometer
      Repeat Cycle: 46 days
      Products: 1B1 Ortho Rectified Image
      Image of the Earthdata website Login registration screen.

      Get an Account. Find Data.

      Step 1: Get an Earthdata Login Account

      A NASA Earthdata Login account is required for downloading data and tools from ASF. Registering for an account is free and may be done at the Earthdata Login registration site link below.

      Please note that the registration and EULA agreement process must be completed in English.

      Step 2: Find Data

      An Earthdata Login username and password are required to download ASF data using Vertex Data Search and ASF Search API, or to download ASF Tools and Derived Datasets from the website.

        • All of the datasets and tools at ASF are free, and most are available to download without restriction.
        • Only the JERS-1 and RADARSAT-1 datasets are restricted. Access to these data requires the submission of a data access request form.

      Data Search Tools

      • Vertex Data Search is an easy-to-use, yet powerful interface for searching the ASF data archive. Search areas can be created by drawing on a map, entering coordinates, or importing a geospatial file. Searches can be done on a list of file names or by campaign. Filters can be applied to refine a search. And search results can be downloaded individually or in bulk.
      Screenshot of Vertex interface.
      • ASF Search API is a programmatic method of searching the ASF data archive from a browser window or command line interface. Search results can be saved and downloaded using Wget, cURL, or aria2.
      Screenshot of cammand line interface of the ASF Search API.
      • NASA Earthdata Search is a search interface that provides the ability to search all NASA Earth observation data holdings.
      Image of the NASA Earthdata search interface.

      Third-Party Software Tools

      Free/Open-Source Tools

      ERDAS ER Viewer — The ERDAS ER Viewer is an easy-to-use image viewer featuring interactive roaming and zooming with very large JPEG 2000 and ECW files.

      GMT5SAR — GMTSAR is an open source (GNU General Public License) InSAR processing system designed for users familiar with Generic Mapping Tools (GMT).

      InSAR ISCE — InSAR Scientific Computing Environment is a flexible and extensible computing environment for geodetic image processing for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), available to WInSAR members.

      LIZARDTECH GeoViewer — Display MrSID imagery, raster imagery, LiDAR point clouds, and vector overlays in one standalone application.

      PolSARPro — The Polarimetric SAR Data Processing and Educational Tool aims to facilitate the accessibility and exploitation of multi-polarized synthetic aperture radar (SAR) datasets.

      pyroSAR — A Python Framework for Large-Scale SAR Satellite Data Processing.

      SARViews — A fully automatic processing system that produces value-added products in support of monitoring natural disasters. The SARVIEWS processor is implemented in the Amazon Cloud and utilizes modern processing technology to generate geocoded and fully terrain corrected image time series, as well as interferometric SAR data over areas affected by natural disasters.

      Sentinel-1 Toolbox — A collection of processing tools, data-product readers and writers, and a display-and-analysis application to support the large archive of data from ESA SAR missions including SENTINEL-1, ERS-1 and -2, and ENVISAT, as well as third-party synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from ALOS PALSAR, TerraSAR-X, COSMO-SkyMed and RADARSAT-2. 

      Worldview Quick Look Tool — This tool from NASA’s EOSDIS provides the capability to interactively browse global, full-resolution satellite imagery and then download the underlying data. Most of the 100+ available products are updated within three hours of observation.

      Commercial Tools

      ENVI — ENVI provides advanced, user-friendly tools to read, explore, prepare, analyze and share information extracted from all types of imagery.

      ERDAS IMAGINE — ERDAS IMAGINE performs advanced remote sensing analysis and spatial modeling to create new information.

      GAMMA — The GAMMA SAR and Interferometry Software is a collection of programs that allows processing of SAR, interferometric SAR (InSAR) and differential interferometric SAR (DInSAR) data for airborne and spaceborne SAR systems.

      Geomatica — Geomatica is a single, integrated software system for remote sensing and image processing.

      ASF Software License Agreement

      Copyright © 2022, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Satellite Facility. All rights reserved.

      Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

      • Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
      • Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
      • Neither the name of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, nor its subunits, nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.
      • Redistribution and use of source and binary forms are for noncommercial purposes only.


      THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS “AS IS” AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT OWNER OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

      Convert to Vector

      Transform point or scene information to formats compatible with Google Earth, GIS, and more

      Convert to Vector is a small program made to transform point or scene information to various other formats that are compatible with external applications such as Google Earth, GIS software such as ArcGIS, text editors, and spreadsheets.

      Current version: 2.2.4

      Download
      For Windows
      Source

      User Manual

      Convert to Vector 2.2.4 (released 2009 April 29)
      New Features:

      • Ability to convert STF files, TerraSAR-X files.

      Convert to Vector 2.1.1 (released 2009 January 9)
      New Features: 

      • Capability to convert general KML files, not just those created by Convert to Vector.
      • Support for converting URSA files.
      • Capability to customize which metadata fields are placed in the output file by use of a configuration file.

      Initial public release: Convert To Vector 2.0.4 (2008 July 30)

      ASF releases a light duty software kit, Covert to Vector. This tool transforms point or scene information to various other formats that are compatible with external applications such as Google Earth(tm), GIS software such as ArcGIS(tm), text editors, and spreadsheets. One of the primary purposes of this software is to enable users to quickly and easily view the extents of a SAR dataset or a metadata file. This is done simply by dropping the file in question into the Convert to Vector tool which can automatically detect the data type, create a new file based on the available data, and open that file in Google Earth to display the image boundaries. Of course, other transformations are possible; all the tool needs is latitude and longitude information.

      Stack of Sentinel-1 RTC images over the Yukon Flats, Alaska.

      RTC Stack Processor

      The radiometric terrain correction (RTC) stacking tool facilitates time-series analysis of such phenomena as flooding events, deforestation, or glacier retreat.

      This tool creates a stack from a set of Sentinel-1 RTC products produced on the ASF HyP3 system. It also works for a co-registered set of PALSAR RTC products. In fact the tool can accept any UTM projected co-registered set of images.

      The stack tool allows the user to perform sub-setting, resampling, grouping, filtering, and culling on the stack. The final products are a stack of processed geotiffs and an animated GIF of the stack.

      Stack of Sentinel-1 RTC images over the Yukon Flats, Alaska.
      The Yukon river flats near Beaver, Alaska. ASF DAAC 2019, contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2017-2018, processed by ESA.

      Stack Processor Instructions Overview

      Input Options

      • Download input files from a HyP3 subscription (if not already downloaded), unzipping files as necessary.
      • Process cloud optimized images directly from an AWS bucket
      • Read unzipped HyP3 directories or custom files from the command line

      Processing Options

      • Group files by timestamp
      • Ascending or descending only
      • Subset images by clipping to:
        • Common overlap
        • Bounding box
        • Shapefile
      • Cull images based on the amount of ‘no data’
      • Filter images using Enhanced Lee filter
      • Resample image to desired resolution

      Post Processing

      • Animation creation
        • Results are scaled to byte using a set dB range
        • Results converted to PNG files
        • HyP3 files annotated with the date
        • Create animated GIF from PNG files
      • Output frames
        • Clipped groups of processed images are converted to one of these:
          • dB byte
          • dB float
          • Floating point amplitude
          • Floating point power