Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR) Remote Sensing Basics and Applications – Part 2

Software, Tools, Libraries, Utilities etc.  Detail
SAR data processing
Polarimetric and polarimetric interferometric SAR (PolSAR / PolInSAR)
  • PolSARPro – The ESA Polarimetric SAR Data Processing and Educational Tool
Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR)
  • GMT5SAR – InSAR processing system based on GMT. (for developers)
  • ISCE – InSAR Scientific Computing Environment.
  • Doris – Delft object-oriented radar interferomtric software.
  • Gamma – Gamma Remote Sensing SAR and Interferometry Software.
Multitemporal/time series InSAR analysis
  • GIAnT – Generic InSAR Analysis Toolbox.
  • MintPy – Miami INsar Time-series software in PYthon.
  • PyRate – A Python tool for Rate and Time-series Estimation
  • SARPROZ – The SAR PROcessing tool by periZ
  • StaMPS/MTI – Stanford Method for Persistent Scatterers – git-version
Performing Tropospheric Noise Corrections
  • PyAPS – Python based Atmospheric Phase Screen Estimation.
  • TRAIN – Toolbox for Reducing Atmospheric InSAR Noise – git-version.
Geospatial and Post-processing Analysis of SAR data
  • ASF Map Ready – MapReady Remote Sensing Tool Kit
  • GDAL – Geospatial Data Abstraction Library
  • GMT – Generic Mapping Tools
  • QGIS
  • GRASS – Geographic Resources Analysis Support System),
Projects on Github related to SAR
  • Data discovery and download

    • SSARA – Seamless SAR Archive project repository
    • ArchiveTools – Scripts for downloading and searching data
    • SentinelSat – Search and download Sentinel images from the command line or with the Python API.
  • Software and Utilities

  • System configuration and installation

    • insar_instal – Set of scripts that automatically install InSAR softwares
    • isce_notes – Installation notes of ISCE software
    • oldLinuxSetup – Setup python environment using anaconda on old linux machines
    • ElCaptanSetup – Instructions for setting up an OS X El Capitan machine from scratch
Image Processing Libraries
Data Resources
  • ASF – Alaska Satellite Facility
  • ARIA-products – Standard products of the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) Project for Natural Hazards
  • DLR Geohazards Supersites – TerraSAR-X Geohazard Supersites EO Data Gateway
  • ESA Virtual Archive 4 – Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories Virtual Archive
  • SciHub – Sentinel Scientific Data Hub
  • UNAVCO/WInSAR – WInSAR consortium and GeoEarthScope Data
Training, Tutorials, Classes & Other Online Educational Material

Link to Part 1


Flood Monitoring from Space – ESA’s Sentinel-1

Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan received heavy monsoon rain August 30, 2017. The flood in Karachi due to heavy rains is the continuation of the similar monsoon related flooding crisis in the South East Asia region (India, Bangladesh etc.).The Flood map below is derived (subset of Karachi city ) from European Space Agency (ESA)’s Copernicus Program SENTINEL-1 Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR) image acquired on September 01, 2017. The green color in the map shows the flooded region.



The total rainfall derived from satellite data (GPM IMERG) for Karachi from August 29-31, 2017 is shown in Figure below:



Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR) Remote Sensing Basics and Applications

This post will provide an overview of the basics of Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR) and applications. The main topics discussed in the listed documents include: SAR basics, backscatter, geometry, interferometry, polarimetry, SAR data, data acquisition, available data sets/access to data, data analysis tools, future missions and SAR applications. Please do check Part 2 for more details.

What is RADAR? – RAdio Detection And Ranging

What is SAR? – Synthetic Aperture Radar – Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is an active remote sensing technology that uses microwave energy to illuminate the surface. The system records the elapsed time and energy of the return pulse received by the antenna (PDF).

Image result for SAR satellite systems (source: unavco)

Synthetic Aperature Radar (SAR) Tutorials

  1. A Tutorial on Synthetic Aperture RADAR – ESA (PDF )  (PDF) (Radiometric Calibration of SAR Image)
  2. The Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation (CCMEO) is considered an international leader in the development and use of synthetic aperture radar or SAR sensors.  From space, SAR can image the Earth’s surface through clouds and in total darkness.  This makes it a tremendously useful sensor for monitoring Canada’s changing landmass and coastal zones. CCMEO scientists have worked with the Canadian Space Agency in the development of both RADARSAT 1 and RADARSAT 2  satellite missions.  Their research has led to improved data quality through enhanced sensor design and post-launch calibration and validation activities.
  3. This training manual introduces and explains Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR), including applications for data from the Envisat ASAR sensor and how to combine Envisat and ERS images to produce interferograms and differential interferograms.
  4. Synthetic Aperture RADARs Imaging Basics (PDF)
  5. NOAA SAR Manual (PDF)
  6. Synthetic-aperture imaging from high-Doppler-resolution measurements (PDF)
  7. A Mathematical Tutorial on Synthetic Aperture RADAR (PDF)
  8. Remote sensed ground control points with TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X (PDF)
  9. Interpolation and Resampling (Link)
  10. ESA’s InSAR Principles (Link)
  11. ESA Advanced Training Course on Land Remote Sensing (Link)
  12. A Strategy for Active Remote Sensing Amid Increased Demand for Radio Spectrum (2015) (Chapter 1) (Chapter 2) (Chapter 3) (Chapter 4) (Chapter 5) (Chapter 6) (Chapter 7) (Chapter 8) (Chapter 9) (Chapter 10)

Synthetic Aperature Radar (SAR) Applications

  1. Infrastructure Monitoring with Spaceborne SAR Sensors (Link)
  2. Soil Moisture Measurements by SAR (PDF)
  3. Marine applications: Sea Ice (Link), Marine Winds (PDF), Oil Pollution (PDF)
  4. Land deformation (Link)
  5. Flood Mapping (PDF) (PDF)

Video Tutorials on SAR

Earthdata Webinar Series: Discover Simplified SAR Solutions at NASA ASF DAAC

NASA ARSET: Basics of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Sessions 4

This video is part of the Australian National University course ‘Advanced Remote Sensing and GIS’ (ENVS3019 / ENVS6319)

PCI Geomatics Live stream- Advanced SAR training course

SAR Data Processing Shri Shashi Kumar (ISRO)

Space Based SAR Systems


Launched in 1995, C-band HH-polirzation, Canadian Space Agency

Related image

RADARSAT-1 mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link)

Data Product Specification (Link)

Applications (Link) (PDF)

RADARSAT is an advanced Earth observation satellite system developed by Canada to monitor environmental change and to support resource sustainability (Link)


Launched in 2007, C-band quad-polirzation, MDA, CSA

RADARSAT-2 mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link)

Data Product Specification (Link)

Applications (Link) (PDF)

The many advances in RADARSAT-2 technology were developed to respond to specific needs for radar data in hundreds of environmental monitoring applications in Canada and around the world (Link).


Launched in 2014/15, C-band dual-polirzation, European Space Agency (ESA)

Image result for sentinel-1

SENTINEL-1 mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link)

Data Product Specification (Link)

Applications (Link) (PDF)

SENTINEL-1 provides data feeding services for applications in the Copernicus priority areas of maritime monitoring, land monitoring and emergency management (Link).


Launched in 2012, C-band single/dual & Circular Polirzation, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)

Image result for RISAT-1

RISAT mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link) (PDF) (PDF)

Data Product Specification (Link) (PDF)

Applications (Link)

Active Microwave Remote Sensing provides cloud penetration and day-night imaging capability. These unique characteristics of C-band (5.35GHz) Synthetic Aperture Radar enable applications in agriculture, particularly paddy monitoring in kharif season and management of natural disasters like flood and cyclone.

Terra SAR-X / TanDEM-X

Launched in 2007/10, X-band quad polirzation, DLR/Astrium, Germany

Image result for TERRA SAR -X Tan DEM X

Terra SAR-X  (TSX) mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link) (Link to documents)

Data Product Specification (Link)

Applications (Link)

TanDEM-X (TDX) mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link)

Data Product Specification (Link)

Applications (Link)

TanDEM-X – the Earth in three dimensions (Link) (Link)


Launched in 2014, L-band quad polirzation, Japanese Space Agency (JAXA)

ALOS-2 mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link)

Data Product Specification (CEOS Link) (Geotiff Link) (Link)

Applications (Link to papers) (PDF)

JAXA conducted research and development activities for ALOS-2 to improve wide and high-resolution observation technologies developed for ALOS in order to further fulfill social needs. These social needs include: 1) Disaster monitoring of damage areas, both in considerable detail, and when these areas may be large 2) Continuous updating of data archives related to national land and infrastructure information 3) Effective monitoring of cultivated areas 4) Global monitoring of tropical rain forests to identify carbon sinks.


Launched in 2007/10, 4 Satellites X-band dual polirzation, ASI/Italy

COSMO SkyMed mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link)

Data Product Specification (Link) (PDF)

Applications (PDF) (PDF) (PDF) (PDF)

COSMO SkyMed offers high resolution X‐Band SAR (synthetic aperture radar) images. Despite its enormous potential, research investigating the possible uses in archaeology is still very scarce, especially of one which works solely with single date analysis starting with a single SAR scene (PDF).


Launched in 2013,  S-band (HH or VV) polarization CRESDA/CAST/NRSCC, China

Image result for HJ-1C-SAR product description

HJ-1C-SAR mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link)

Data Product Specification (Link)

Applications (Link) (PDF)

HJ-1A/B/C corresponding to environment and disaster monitoring and forecasting small satellite constellation A/B/C include two optical satellites – HJ-1A/B and one radar satellite HJ-1C, which can carry out large-scale, all-weather and 24h dynamic monitoring for ecological environment and disaster (Link).


Launched in 2014, X-band quad polarization, Ministry of Defense, Spain

Image result for PAZ X-band quad polarization, Ministry of Defense, Spain

PAZ mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link) (Link)

Data Product Specification (Link) (Link)

Applications (Link)

PAZ is a Spanish radar technology satellite designed to address not only security and defense requirements, but also others of civilian nature. It is capable of daily taking more than 100 images of up to 25 cm resolution, both day and night, and independently of weather conditions (Link).


Launched in 2013, X-band dual polarization, KARI, Korea

Image result for Kompsat-5 Kari -band product description

Kompsat-5 mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link) (Link) (Link)

Data Product Specification (Link)

Applications (Link) (Link)

SAOCOM – 1/2

Launched in 2016/18, L-band quad polarization, CONAE/ASI, Argentina

Image result for SAOCOm L-band product description

SAOCOM- 1/2 mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link) (PDF) (PDF)

Data Product Specification (Link) (PPT)

Applications (Link)

The Argentina National Space Activities Commission (CONAE) launched a new Earth observation satellite that will support disaster management efforts. SAOCOM 1A is the first of a constellation of two radar satellites. The remote sensing mission aims to provide timely information for disaster management as well as monitoring services for agriculture, mining and ocean applications.

NASA-ISRO Systhetic Aperture Radar (NISAR)

will launch in 2020 (Link)

NISAR mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link) (PDF)

Data Product Specification (Link) (Link)

Applications (Link) (Videos)

The launch of the first dual-frequency synthetic aperture radar (SAR). The data collected by the L-band (produced by NASA) and S-band (produced by ISRO) SAR systems aboard the NISAR satellite and processed into cloud-free, ultra-sharp imagery will facilitate cutting-edge research into some of the planet’s most complex processes, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet dynamics, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and landslides.

RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM)

Will launch in 2019 three satellites, C-band quad compact polirzation, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) (Link)

Image result for RADARSAT Constellation Mission product description

RCM mission overview, spacecraft, references (Link)

Data Product Specification (Link) (Link)

Applications (Link) (PDF) (PDF)

RCM Pre-launch Preparedness Using Simulated Products (Link)

RCM Compact Polarimetry (CP) (PDF) (PDF) (PDF) (PDF)

Conference: ASAR 2019,

Please do check Part 2 for more details.