Terra, the first Earth Observing System (EOS) satellite was launched on December 18, 1999. ASTER is one of five state-of-the-art instrument sensor systems on-board Terra.

ASTER ( Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflectance Radiometer) is an imaging instrument onboard Terra - the first Earth Observing System (EOS) satellite. Terra was launched on December 18, 1999 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and flies in a sun-synchronous polar orbit, crossing the equator in the morning at 10:30 am. ASTER is one of five state-of-the-art instrument sensor systems onboard Terra with a unique combination of wide spectral coverage and medium spatial resolution in the visible, near-infrared through shortwave infrared to the thermal infrared regions. ASTER data contributes to a wide array of global change-related applications including vegetation and ecosystem dynamics, hazard monitoring, geology and soils, land surface climatology, hydrology and land cover change.
ASTER consists of three different subsystems; the Visible and Near Infrared (VNIR), the Shortwave Infrared (SWIR) and the Thermal Infrared (TIR). The VNIR subsystem consists of two independent telescope assemblies. One is vertical looking and has three detector arrays collecting data in the visible green, visible red and near infrared wavelengths, while a backward looking telescope has one detector array in the same spectral band as the near infrared of the vertical array. The two near infrared (3N and 3B) generating an along-track stereo image pair with a base-to-height ratio of 0.6 and an intersection angle of 27.7degs which can be used to generate digital elevation models.

Resolution VNIR 15 m
SWIR 30 m
TIR 90 m
Nominal Swath Width 60 km
Bands
  • VNIR Band 1 (Green): 520-600 nm
  • VNIR Band 2 (Red): 630-690 nm
  • VNIR Band 3 (NIR): 780-860 nm
  • SWIR Band 4: 1.6-1.7 μm
  • SWIR Band 5: 2.145-2.185 μm
  • SWIR Band 6: 2.185-2.225 μm
  • SWIR Band 7: 2.235-2.285 μm
  • SWIR Band 8: 2.295-2.365 μm
  • SWIR Band 9: 2.36-2.43 μm

  • TIR Band 10: 8.125-8.475 μm
  • TIR Band 11: 8.475-8.825 μm
  • TIR Band 12: 8.925-9.275 μm
  • TIR Band 13: 10.25-10.95 μm
  • TIR Band 14: 10.95-11.65 μm
Archive Availability Possible from 1999
Programmable? No
Minimum area of purchase Standard, full scenes only
Stereo available? Yes along track stereo from Level 1A VNIR bands 3N and 3B
Largest Scale 1:40,000 - VNIR & SWIR
Bit depth 8 bits VNIR & SWIR
12 bits TIR
Applications Spectral processing for Mineral exploration
Vegetation analysis
Availability of imagery over cloud affected areas
Minimal expense, medium resolution dataset
DEM generation

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