Alaska Satellite Facility
Delivering Remote Sensing Data Since 1991

How to View Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Imagery

Most SAR products are delivered in either CEOS or GeoTIFF file formats. These file formats will not display in both Windows and Mac default image viewers. However, you can view GeoTIFFs in a GIS program. In addition, both GeoTIFF and CEOS images can be viewed using free downloadable software from ASF called ASFView. ASFView is included when you download ASF's MapReady software.

File FormatDatasetNeeded to View
CEOS L1 and L1.5 productsERS-1, ERS-2, JERS-1, RSAT-1, PALSARASFView/MapReady
Instructions: Data Recipes — View and geocode CEOS Format Data
GeoTIFF productsPALSAR RTC, Sentinel-1 GRDArcGIS, QGIS, S1TBX
Instructions: Data Recipes — View PALSAR RTC images in GIS
GeoTIFF  productsTerrestrial EcologySeasatArcGIS,QGIS  ASFView/MapReady

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and GIS

Many users want to work with their SAR imagery in a GIS program, which necessitates that the data be in the GeoTIFF format. GeoTIFFs may be viewed in GIS programs. 

PALSAR RTC GeoTIFF products are in gamma0. They can be converted to sigma0 for better viewing in GIS.
Instructions: Data Recipes — View (PALSAR) Radiometrically Terrain Corrected images in GIS

If the data is in CEOS format, it must be converted to GeoTIFF to use it in GIS.
Data Recipes — View and geocode CEOS Format Data
Data Recipes — Terrain-correct CEOS data

The basic steps are:

  1. Download MapReady software
  2. Obtain a digital elevation model (DEM) for your area of interest
  3. Terrain-correct your L1 or L1.5 product using MapReady software, apply calibration

Data Formats and Files
MapReady User Manual
MapReady How To Guide

Get SAR Data

Get SAR Data

Select and download SAR data online using Vertex.

Use the ASF API for downloading SAR data via a command line.