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






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.  AVNIR-2 (Advanced Visible and Near Infrared Radiometer type 2) was another instrument on ALOS. 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  and AVNIR-2 data from 2009-2011. 


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



AQUA and TERRA (MODIS sensor only)

The Aqua and Terra satellites carry a variety of sensors. CSTARS downloads data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor which measures electromagnetic radiation in 36 spectral bands ranging from 405 nm to 14.4 µm [which includes a range from visible (VIS) to long wave infrared (LWIR) ]. Data from this sensor is used by a range of scientists from biologists (ground cover, ocean color, sea surface temperature, algal blooms, etc)  to meteorologists (cloud cover, cloud and surface temperature, cyclone research, etc). One limitation is a highest quality resolution of 250 m.


Aqua spacecraft




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 downloading Cosmo-SkyMed since late 2009.


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




ASAR was a C-band Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument onboard the European Space Agency’s ENVISAT satellite, which was launched in March 2002, MERIS (MEdium-Spectral Resolution, Imaging Spectrometer) was another instrument on the same satellite. ENVISAT-1 was operated by the European Space Agency. CSTARS downloaded ASAR data from 2003 and MERIS from 2004 until Envisat failed on-orbit in April 2012.


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





The Earth Remote Observation Satellite (EROS) EROS-B satellite is an optical satellite with a 70 cm resolution panchromatic charge coupled device (CCD) sensor array.CSTARS has downloaded data from EROS-B since November 2010. 


EROS B Satellite





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




RadarSAT I


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.


Inclination angle (degrees) 98.6
Orbital period (minutes) 100.7
Mean local time at ascending node 18:00 ± 5 min
Altitude (km) 793-821 km
Orbits per day 14  7/24
Repeat cycle (days) 24 days (343 orbits)
Polarization HH
Beam Modes and Nominal Resolution 8 m  
Fine Beam 20 m 
Standard Beam 50 m




Radarsat II was launched in 2007 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. CSTARS has been downloading data from RadarSAT II since 2010. 


Inclination angle (degrees) 98.6
Orbital period (minutes) 100.7
Mean local time at ascending node 18:00 ± 5 min
Altitude (km) 798
Orbits per day 14  7/24
Repeat cycle (days) 24 days (343 orbits)
Polarization HH,HV,VH,VV
Beam Modes and Nominal Resolution spotlight,single pol: 3 m x 18 km
Fine Beam 10 m x 50 km 
Standard Beam 25 m x 100 km
ScanSAR 300 m x 50 km (narrow)



RapidEye refers to a constellation of 5 satellites operated by Blackbridge that use CCD technology to capture five optical and near infrared spectral bands ranging from 440 to 850 nm wavelengths with 6.5 m resolution at nadir and a 12 bit dynamic range. 

RapidEye spacecraft



SPOT (Satellite pour l'Obsevation de la Terre) is a high-resolution, optical imaging earth observation satellite system operating from space. It is provided by Airbus Defense and Space (Airbus DS). CSTARS does not have a current agreement to provide SPOT data, but there is SPOT imagery in our EDGE database for the period of time we were collecting from this satellite group (SPOT 2, 4, 5).


SPOT Spacecraft













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 data since late 2009 and TanDEM-X data since its launch in 2010.


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

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.