Written by Jeffrey Gillan
Agency/Company Operating the Sensor
Jointly managed by NASA and Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry
ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) is one of five imaging instruments flying on the Terra satellite launched in 1999 as part of NASA’s Earth Observing System. It is used to gather detailed data on surface temperature, emissivity, reflectance, and elevation at a relatively high spatial resolution. ASTER gathers data in 14 spectral bands: 3 visible and 11 in the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. It has a nadir and backward facing Band 3 which gives it the unique ability to create digital elevation models based on stereo images. It has a revisit time of 16 days which can be a limitation for studying rapidly changing surface conditions. There might also be costs associated with acquiring some images.
The ASTER sensor consists of three separate subsystems. ASTER has a sun-synchronous polar orbit meaning it crosses over any given latitude at the same time each day. The satellite revisits the same area every 16 days.
Visible and Near Infrared Subsystem: 8 bits, 60km swath width
|3 (nadir)||15m||0.76-0.86||Near Infrared|
|3 (backward)||15m||0.76-0.86||Near Infrared|
Short Wave Infrared Subsystem: 8 bits, 60km swath width
|4||30m||1.600-1.700||Short Wave Infrared|
|5||30m||2.145-2.185||Short Wave Infrared|
|6||30m||2.185-2.225||Short Wave Infrared|
|7||30m||2.235-2.285||Short Wave Infrared|
|8||30m||2.295-2.365||Short Wave Infrared|
|9||30m||2.360-2.430||Short Wave Infrared|
Thermal Infrared Subsystem: 12 bits, 60km swath width
Cost, Acquisition, Licensing
Unlike the Landsat program that acquires and archives all images, ASTER provides images on-demand and will only gather data on an area if a request has been submitted. Pre-existing ASTER images are archived and available through the Reverb/Echo system http://reverb.echo.nasa.gov/reverb/#utf8=%E2%9C%93&spatial_map=satellite&spatial_type=rectangle or the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LPDAAC) Data Pool https://lpdaac.usgs.gov/get_data/data_pool. A suite of products at different processing levels are available through these two sources. All existing level 1B products through the Data Pool are available at no cost. Higher processes products may have costs involved.
If your area of interest has not been archived or acquired yet, please click here http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/NewReq.asp for instructions on how to request an image acquisition.
ASTER Standard Products
|1A||Radiance at sensor||Image data plus radiometric and geometric coefficients. Data are separated by telescope.|
|1AE||Radiance at sensor||Expedited L1AE data product created from ASTER Expedited Level-0.|
|1BE||Registered radiance at sensor||Expedited L1BE data product created from ASTER. Expedited Level – 1AE|
|2A||Registered radiance at sensor||1A data with radiometric and geometric coefficients applied|
|2||Decorrelation stretch||Enhanced color composites for each telescope|
|2||Brightness temperature||Radiance at the sensor converted to temperature|
|2||Surface radiance||Radiance corrected for atmospheric effects|
|2||Surface reflectance VNIR, SWIR||Derived from surface radiance with topographic corrections|
|2||Surface kinetic temperature||Temperature-emissivity separation algorithm applied to atmospherically corrected surface radiance data.|
|2||Surface emissivity||Temperature-emissivity separation algorithm applied to atmospherically corrected surface radiance data.|
|3||Polar Surface and Cloud Classification||Classifies each pixel of polar scenes into one of eight classes: water cloud, ice cloud, aerosol/dust, water, land, snow/ice, slush ice, and shadow.|
|3||Digital elevation model||DEM produced by stereo correlation of nadir and aft band 4 data|
|3||Orthorectified||15 orthorectified L1B radiance images in GeoTiff|
|3||Orthorectified DEM||15 orthorectified L1B images + DEM|
ASTER images typically come in a HDF-EOS file format but can be converted to Geotiff files in several projections.Tools for carrying out data transformations can be found at: https://lpdaac.usgs.gov/tools.
Examples of Rangeland Uses
- Heine et al (2007) used ASTER imagery to create land cover maps to assess the condition of high altitude pastures
- Phillips and Beeri (2008) used ASTER and Landsat images to estimate net ecosystem exchange in the Northern Great Plains
- Garcia et al (2008) used surface temperature and reflectance from ASTER images to study land degradation risk in a semi-arid region of Spain
- Hewson et al (2008) used thermal ASTER imagery to extract soil textural information
Java is required for viewing and selecting data in the LPDAAC Data Pool.
ASTER images can be converted into GeoTiff format making is compatible with ESRI ArcGIS and other GIS platforms. The images can be manipulated and processed in remote sensing software packages such as ENVI and ERDAS Imagine.
- ASTER Mission http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/
- Nasa’s Earth Observing System http://eospso.gsfc.nasa.gov/
- Japan ASTER Ground Data System http://gds.aster.ersdac.jspacesystems.or.jp/gds_www2002/exhibition_e/a_gds_e/set_a_gds_e.html
- ASTER Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Spaceborne_Thermal_Emission_and_Reflection_Radiometer
- Garcia, Monica, Cecilio Oyonarte, Luis Villagarcia, Sergio Contreras, Francisco Domingo, Juan Puigdefabregas (2008), Monitoring land degradation risk using ASTER data: The non-evaporative fraction as an indicator of ecosystem function, Remote Sensing of the Environment, Vol. 12, pp. 3720-3736.
- Heine, Erwin, Monika Kriechbaum, and Franz Suppan (2007), Assessment of the condition of the high altitude pastures in south Tibet supported by land cover maps derived from Aster Satellite Data, 9th International Symposium on High Mountain Remote Sensing Cartography, pp. 193-200.
- Hewson, R. D., G. R. Taylor, and L. W. Whitborn (2008), Application of TIR imagery and spectroscopy for the extraction of soil textural information at Fowlers Gap, Western New South Wales, Australia, unpublished report, IEEE International Geoscience & Remote Sensing Symposium.
- Jenson, John R. (2007), Remote Sensing of the Environment: An Earth resource perspective, second edition, Prentice Hall series in geographic information science, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
- Phillips, Rebecca L. and Ofer Beeri (2008), Scaling-up knowledge of growing-season net ecosystem exchange for long-term assessment of North Dakota grasslands under the Conservation Reserve Program, Global Change Biology, Vol. 14, pp. 1008-1017.