Contributors: Megan Kanaga Creutzburg

Other Names:

Formerly known as ROCSAT-2

Agency/Company Operating the Sensor

FORMOSAT images are available through the Spot Image Corporation (


FORMOSAT-2 was launched in 2004 by the Taiwan National Space Organization. It has an orbit that is both geosynchronous, covering every place on earth once a day, and sun-synchronous, taking images under the same lighting conditions. Therefore, FORMOSAT-2 data are useful for change detection in rapidly changing landscapes. It carries panchromatic sensors (sensitive to all wavelengths in the visible spectrum, processed as a black and white image) and multispectral sensors (blue, green, red and near-infrared bands). Natural-color composites are available using red, green and blue bands without additional special processing. FORMOSAT has been used for mapping vegetation, various applications in crop science, and disaster management (eg. 2007 California wildfires, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, etc).

Similar Sensors

Other panchromatic/multispectral sensors include:

Sensor Specifications

Spectral Bands/Wavelengths

Band Resolution Wavelength ┬Ám Description
B1 8m 0.45-0.52 Blue
B2 8m 0.53-0.60 Green
B3 8m 0.63-0.69 Red
B4 8m 0.76-0.90 Near-infrared
P 2m 0.45-0.90 Panchromatic

Image footprint or swath width

The image footprint is 24 x 24 km.

Image resolution

Image resolution is 2 m for panchromatic (black and white) FORMOSAT images and 8 m for multispectral (color) images.

Return interval

FORMOSAT-2 images the same places on the surface of the earth at the same time every day. The high temporal resolution can be useful for detecting rapid change.


2004 to present.

Cost, Acquisition, Licensing

FORMOSAT images are available from Spot Image. For a list of current pricing information, see Archived images over one year old cost half the price of current images. There are also options to acquire time series images at lower cost. Spot Image offers different pricing levels for standard licenses, purchased by for internal use by a single user, and multilicenses, purchased by multiple users for collaborative projects. Detailed licensing information is available at

Image format

FORMOSAT products are delivered in GeoTIFF format.

Examples of Rangeland Uses

  • Benhadj et al. (2007) calculated NDVI from FORMOSAT images to detect changes in semi-arid cropland vegetation over time
  • Liu et al. (2008) used FORMOSAT images to detect change due to gravel mining of rivers in Taiwan.
  • Liu et al. (2009) traced wildfires using high-resolution FORMOSAT and MODIS thermal anomaly imagery

Software/Hardware Requirements

FORMOSAT images usually come in a user-friendly GeoTIFF format, which is preferred because of its easy integration with GIS platforms like ArcGIS and image processing programs such as Erdas Imagine and ENVI.

Sample Image

High spatial and temporal resolution FORMOSAT images were used to track rapidly burning California wildfires in 2007 (source: Liu et al. 2009).

Additional Information

Spot Image website for FORMOSAT-2 products


  • Benhadj, I., R. Hadria, B. Duchemin, V. Simonneaux, M. Le Page, B. Mougenot, O. Hagolle, and G. Dedieu. 2007. High Spatial and Temporal Resolution FORMOSAT-2 Images: First Results and Perspectives for Land Cover Mapping of Semiarid Areas (Marrakech/Al Haouz plain). Fourth International Workshop on the Analysis of Multi-temporal Remote Sensing Images (MULTITEMP). Leuven, Belgium, 5 p.
  • Bsaibes, A., D. Courault, F. Baret, M. Weiss, A. Olioso, F. Jacob, O. Hagolle, O. Marloie, N. Bertrand, V. Desfond, and F. Kzempour. 2009. Albedo and LAI estimates from FORMOSAT-2 data for crop monitoring. Remote Sensing of Environment 113: 716-729.
  • Hadria, R., B. Duchemin, F. Baup, T. Le Toan, A. Bouvet, G. Dedieu, and M. Le Page. 2009. Combined use of optical and radar satellite data for the detection of tillage and irrigation operations: Case study in Central Morocco. Agricultural Water Management 96: 1120-1127.
  • Liu, C-C., C-J. Shieh, C-A. Wu, and M-L. Shieh. 2008. Change detection of gravel mining on riverbeds from the multi-temporal and high-spatial-resolution FORMOSAT-2 imagery. River Research and Aplications 24: 1-17.
  • Liu, C-C, A-M. Wu, S-Y. Yen, and C-H. Huang. 2009. Rapid locating of fire points from Formosat-2 high spatial resolution imagery: example of the 2007 California wildfire. International Journal of Wildland Fire 18: 415-422.
  • Yang, M.D., T.C. Su, C.H. Hsu, K.C. Chang, and A.M. Wu. 2007. Mapping of the 26 December 2004 tsunami disaster by using FORMOSAT-2 images. International Journal of Remote Sensing 28: 3071-3091.

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