Following are details regarding past and present missions acquired, processed, and/or otherwise available at CSTARS:


RadarSat-1 was a C-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) launched in November 1995, which was owned by the Canadian Space Agency and operated by MDA Geospatial Services of Richmond, Canada. CSTARS downlinked Radarsat-1 data from August 2002 until Radarsat-1 failed on-orbit in March 2013.

In 2007 Radarsat II was launched and remains operational today with enhanced capabilities over its predecessor including multiple polarizations and finer resolution (1 m x 3 m in spotlight mode). Operated by MDA GeospatialServices of Richmond, Canada. 


  I II
Inclination angle (degrees) 98.6 98.6
Orbital period (minutes) 100.7 100.7
Mean local time at ascending node 18:00 ± 5 min 18:00 ± 5 min
Altitude (km) 793-821 km 798
Orbits per day 14 7/24 14 7/24
Repeat cycle (days) 24 days (343 orbits) 24 days (343 orbits)
Polarization HH HH,HV,VH,VV

Beam Modes and Nominal Resolution

Fine Beam
Standard Beam

8 m x 45 km 
30 m x 100 km
300 m x 50 km (narrow)

spotlight,single pol: 3 m x 18 km
10 m x 50 km 
25 m x 100 km
300 m x 50 km (narrow)


ENVISAT ASAR was a C-band Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument onboard the European Space Agency’s ENVISAT satellite, which was launched in March 2002, ENVISAT-1 was operated by the European Space Agency. CSTARS downlinked ASAR data from November 2004 until Envisat failed on-orbit in April 2012.envisat

Inclination angle (degrees) 98.55
Orbital period (minutes) 100.6 min
Mean local time at descending node 10:00 ± 5 min
Mean altitude (km) 799.8 km
Orbits per day 14 11/35
Repeat cycle (days) 35 days (501 orbits)
Polarization VV, HH, VH, HV
Beam Modes and Nominal Resolution
Image Mode
30 m
50 m


ERS-2 was a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument following its predecessor ERS-1 satellite. Launched in April 1995 and operated by the European Space Agency, ERS-2 successfully survived many mission extensions throughout a long career, ending with the initiation of a controlled de-orbit process in 2011. CSTARS downlinked high-rate and low-rate data from ERS-2, from 2002 (high-rate...low rate came later) until the day before mission termination in July 2011.


Inclination angle (degrees) 98.54
Orbital period (minutes) 100.6 min
Mean local time at descending node 10:30 a.m. ± 5 min
Mean altitude (km) 795 km
Orbits per day 14 11/35
Repeat cycle (days) 35 days (501 orbits)
Polarization VV
Beam Mode and Nominal Resolution
Strip Map Mode
25 m



PALSAR was a Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument on ALOS, which was launched in January 2006 and operated by the Japanese Space Agency until a failure in 2011. Through an agreement with the Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF, Fairbanks AK, which was the designated ALOS node for the Americas), CSTARS downlinked a constrained set of modes from PALSAR.

Inclination angle (degrees) 98.16
Orbital period (minutes) 99 min
Mean local time at descending node 10:30 ± 15 min
Mean altitude (km) 691.65 km
Orbits per day 14 27/46
Repeat cycle (days) 46 days (671 orbits)
Polarization HH, VV, HH&HV, VV&VH
Beam Mode and Nominal Resolution
High Resolution Mode

10 m
100 m

TerraSAR-X is the first commercially available radar satellite to offer 25cm resolution imagery products.  TerraSAR-X was launched in June 2007 and is operated in a German public, private partnership (PPP) program between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Airbus Defense and Space (Airbus DS).  Airbus Defense and Space's German part Infoterra GmbH is responsible for the commercial exploitation of the TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X data. The technologies of the active phased array X-band SAR utilizes in-depth experience by the PPP partners in spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems, e.g. from airborne remote sensing or the shuttle missions SIR-C/X-SAR and SRTM.  TerraSAR-X is an excellent complement to optical systems such as Quickbird, IKONOS, FormoSat-2 and SPOT 6 & 7 with its very high resolution SAR capability. The precise attitude and orbit determination of TerraSAR-X allows an orthorectification without ground control point achieving an image pixel location accuracy of up to 1m depending on relief, incidence angle and available DEM. In 2010 TerraSAR-X was joined by its twin TanDEM-X, together the two satellites acquired the data basis for the global Digital Elevation Model WorldDEM™. The Spanish PAZ satellite (owner and operator: Hisdesat) will be launched in late 2014 into the same orbit as TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X. The three almost identical satellites will be operated in a constellation and will support numerous time-critical applications in the areas of maritime surveillance, crisis management and homeland security.

CSTARS has been downlinking TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X since late 2009.

Inclination angle (degrees) 97.44
Orbital period (minutes) 95 min
Mean local time at descending node 06:00 ± 15 min
Mean altitude (km) 514.8 km
Orbits per day 15 2/11
Repeat cycle (days) 11 days (167 orbits)

Polarization (single, dual and quad*)

*Experimental only.

HH or VV (single)
HH/VV, HH/HV, VV/VH (dual)
HH, VV, HV, VH (quad)
Beam Mode and Nominal Resolution
Staring SpotLight
High Resolution SpotLight
Wide ScanSAR

0.25 m
1 m
2 m
3 m
18.5 m
40 m

Cosmo-SkyMed (COnstellation of small Satellites for Mediterranean basin Observation) is an Italian SAR constellation for earth observation launched between June 2007 and November 2010. The COSMO constellation consists of four Low Earth Orbit (LEO) mid-sized satellites, each equipped with a multi-mode high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operating at X-band and fitted with particularly flexible and innovative data acquisition and transmission equipment. COSMO-SkyMed is operated by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and provides an earth observation asset characterized by full global coverage, all weather, day/night acquisition capability, higher resolution, higher accuracy (geo-location, radiometry, etc.), superior image quality, fast revisit/response time, and interferometric/polarimetric capabilities.

CSTARS has been downlinking Cosmo-SkyMed since late 2009.cosmo-skymed

Inclination angle (degrees) 97.86
Orbital period (minutes) 95 min
Mean local time at descending node 06:00 ± 15 min
Mean altitude (km) 619.6 km
Orbits per day 14 13/16
Repeat cycle (days) 16 days (237 orbits)
Constellation of Satellites 4 at 90o phasing
Polarization (selectable) HH, VV, HV, VH
Beam Mode and Nominal Resolution
StripMap Mode
ScanSAR Mode

1 m

3 m
5 m

30 m
100 m


SPOT (Satellite pour l'Obsevation de la Terre) is a high-resolution, optical imaging earth observation satellite system operating from space. It is run by Spot image based in Toulouse, France.

University of Miami Rosenstiel SchoolHome | Privacy | Terms of useWebmaster | University of Miami

CSTARS–University of Miami: 11811 SW 168 Street, Miami, FL 33177 | 305-421-4950
© 2008 Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS)–University of Miami.

Copyright 2011. Joomla 1.7 templates.