Exploring the Applications of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Data

This DataSheet was prepared by Aleshia Mueller in collaboration with Charles Burrows, Claude Duguay, Melanie Engram, Carlos Rios, and Anton Sommer.

The Dataset

Use and Relevance

Use in Teaching



Exploring the Data


Data Type and Presentation

Samples of this restricted data are processed and available in a graphic format on the "Capturing a Dynamic Planet" CD-Rom (which contains its own viewer) for educational use. Images are available as JPGs.

Accessing the Data

The Capturing a Dynamic Planet CD is currently unavailable from the ASF, but visit their website for more info.

Manipulating Data and Creating Visualizations

CD-ROM includes an Image Browser. JPG images are also available for viewing within the "assets" folder in the "images" subfolder.

Tools for Data Manipulation

CD-ROM includes an Image Browser. Images can also be used with Google Earth, ImageJ, My World GIS, and any JPG image editing software.

About the Data

Collection Methods

SAR data is collected from polar-orbiting satellites. The SAR instrument is an active microwave sensor that bounces radar off the earth and receives the reflected backscatter. Examples of SAR satellites that are currently acquiring data are Radarsat-1, ERS-2, Envisat and ALOS. The signal data are downlinked to various receiving groundstations and the data must be processed in order to produce an image.

Limitations and Sources of Error

Water on top of ice (lake or sea ice) can cause erroneous image interpretation.

References and Resources

Education Resources that Use this Dataset

How do teachers learn how to look at a SAR image and interpret what the image shows?

Other related Education Resources

The main concern with teaching with SAR amplitude data is that it is represented as grayscale and this lack of color could reduce student interest.

Another concern is "layover" when imaging mountains.

Related Links

Remote Sensing Core Curriculum Homepage