Foreign Satellite Data Distribution

 Foreign Satellite DataApart from supplying the data for the Indian Remote Sensing Satellites, we also supplement the data requirements of users through other Remote Sensing Satellites. NRSC acquires and distributes data from a number of foreign satellites.NRSC has been acquiring microwave Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data from the ERS-1/2 satellites from 1992 onwards. Products can be supplied from archived data or through programming for future acquisitions. ERS data have been acquired against user requests from 1991 and Tandem data from ERS-1 and ERS-2 during 1995-96.

S. No Satellite
2 ERS-1/2


NRSC has a huge archives of data acquired from the Landsat series of satellites during the period 1984-2001. The Landsat-4 and 5 satellites carry two sensors on-board. A Multi Spectral Scanner (MSS) and a Thematic Mapper (TM). While MSS provided data in four spectral bands with a resolution of 80m, TM provided data in seven spectral bands with a resolution of 30m in the visible and near infra-red bands and 120m in the thermal band. As per the archival policy four coverages per year are available for day passes, two cycles in two years for night passes for the period 1984 to 1997 and data of all the passes acquired thereafter.

Sensor Resolution Coverage Type of the Products Media of the Products Scale of the photo Products
MSS 80
180X185 Full scenes Digital, FCC 1:250000
TMM 30
Full Scenes
Geocoded (15'X15')
Digital, FCC 1:250000


NRSC has been acquiring microwave Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data from the ERS-1/2 satellites from 1992 onwards. Products can be supplied from archived data or through programming for future acquisitions. ERS data have been acquired against user requests from 1991 and Tandem data from ERS-1 and ERS-2 during 1995-96.

Sensor Resolution Coverage Type of the Products Media of the Products
SAR 30
100X100 Scene Based Digital


Since the 1960s, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has been developing Polar orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA-M, renamed as NOAA-17, the third in the KLM series of POES satellites, was launched successfully on June 24, 2002 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The satellite has been placed in a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 833 Km with an inclination angle of 98.60 with respect to the Equator. The orbital period is 101.35 minutes and equatorial crossing time is 10 A.M. The spacecraft like its predecessors carries a suite of sensors on-board. NRSC has been providing NOAA data to the Indian user community since 1987. From 01 April, 2004 onwards, NRSC is acquiring data from NOAA-17 satellite also. Currently, out of the available suite of sensors, NRSC acquires only Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR ) data. NOAA-17 AVHRR is similar to NOAA-16 AVHRR except that it includes a new sixth channel in the visible range that can be used to provide the capability to distinguish between clouds and snow/ice on the ground. The AVHRR sensor provides data with a spatial resolution of 1.09 Km and 10 bit radiometric quantization. All six spectral channels of the sensor are registered so that they all measure energy from the same spot on the earth at the same time. Although the AVHRR has six channels, only five are transmitted to the ground at any one time. Channels 3A and 3B cannot be operated simultaneously. Channel 3A is useful for snow - cloud discrimination, while Channel 3B is useful for Sea Surface Temperature (SST) measurements. In view of the above, during day passes Channel 3A data is acquired, while during night passes Channel 3B data is acquired by default. NOAA digital data is supplied to users in a predefined format called Level-1B format defined by NOAA. Other organizations in the world, who supply the data, follow the same format. It is a packed format and all the band data exists in a 10 bit format. The data product, in addition to video data, contains ancillary information like Earth Location Points (ELPs), solar zenith angle and calibration. All the commercially available Image Analysis Packages have the facility to read data in Level-1B format.The current Level-1B format has been modified from NOAA - 15 data onwards. The new format is called NOAA - KLM format. The data in this format can be read on any system. All variables are declared as integers. The real values are also converted into integers with scaling factor. The earlier format had some problems regarding real numbers ie., ELPs, calibration values etc. They followed either IEEE or VAX floating point format. Only the latest versions of image analysis packages have the facility to read the data in this format. Older versions will not have this feature. While the equatorial crossing time of NOAA-16 is 1:00 P.M., the same for NOAA-17 is 10:00 A.M. While NOAA-16's afternoon crossing time was chosen for its usefulness for meteorological forecasting, NOAA-17 data is useful for applications like NDVI. The data from NOAA have been extensively used for various projects like drought monitoring and potential fishing zone mapping. Click here to view the products. Currently NRSC is acquiring data from NOAA-17 and NOAA-18. Differences between old and new NOAA /AVHRR Level-1B formats

Parameters Old Format New Format
TBM Header 122 bytes 512 bytes
Dataset Header 7400 bytes 15872 bytes
Dummy Dataset Header 7400 bytes 0 bytes
Data Records 7400 bytes 15872 bytes
Number of Records/Scan 2 1


Sensor Resolution Coverage Type of the Products Media of the Products Scale of the photo Products
AVHRR 1.1 Km (five) 2700 X 2700 Sector Based LGSOWG (Level 1B also) Digital No Photo Products


Since its creation in 1958, NASA has been studying the Earth and its changing environment by observing the atmosphere, oceans, land, ice and snow, their influence on climate and weather. In 1991, NASA launched a comprehensive program to study the Earth as an environmental system called the Earth Science Enterprise which comprised of focused, free-flying satellites, space shuttle missions, and various air-borne and ground based studies. Phase-II began in 1999 with the launch of the first EOS satellite, TERRA (formerly AM-1) and Landsat-7. The AM satellite orbits in sun synchronous polar orbit, descending southward and crosses equator in the morning. The other satellite is AQUA (PM - I). This also orbits in sun synchronous polar orbit, ascending northward in the afternoon. NRSC has been acquiring and disseminating TERRA-MODIS data since November 2002. From January 2004 onwards, NRSC is acquiring data from AQUA satellite also. The TERRA and AQUA satellites carry a number instruments out of which NRSC acquires data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro Radiometer (MODIS ) sensor alone.

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro Radiometer (MODIS) - Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro Radiometer (MODIS) is the key instrument in EOS Satellites. It is a passive imaging spectro radiometer. It scans across-track, a swath of 2330 km using 36 discrete spectral bands (visible, near and thermal infra red) between 0.41 and 14.2 micrometers. It provides imagery of the earth's surface and cloud cover to develop an improved understanding of global dynamics and processes occurring on the surface and in the lower atmosphere. Some of the channels are available at different resolutions (1 and 2 at 250m, 3-7 at 500m). MODIS data comes in Hierarchical Data Format file which enables storing of multi type data sets. The HDF file for the lower resolution data contains the higher resolution data down sampled to the lower resolution. While the equatorial crossing time of TERRA is 10:30 A.M., the same for AQUA is 1:30 P.M. AQUA's afternoon crossing time was chosen for its usefulness for meteorological forecasting.


NRSC has acquired Multi-spectral Linear Array (MLA) (Multispectral - 20 m resolution) and Panchromatic Linear Array (PLA) (Panchromatic 10 m resolution) data from SPOT 1 and 2 during the period 1987 to 1990. Apart from acquiring, NRSC also distributes data collected by RADARSAT, IKONOS, QUICKBIRD, ORBIMAGE and ENVISAT.


NRSC has signed an agreement with RADARSAT International, Canada, on 13th August, 1998 for distribution of RADARSAT data products to Indian users. RADARSAT's Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) has the capability to penetrate darkness, clouds, rain and haze. It provides solution for acquiring data over dynamic areas like tropical, coastal and polar regions. RADARSAT can acquire SAR data over any part of the world. Data collected by the satellite is either directly transmitted to the local ground stations or to RADARSAT Ground receiving Station at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan or Gastineau, Quebec, Canada. The satellite is equipped with two On Board Tape Recorders to record data over areas outside the visibility of the ground stations. RADARSAT's SAR operates in C-band (5.6cm), at a frequency of 5.3 GHz with HH polarization. The horizontal polarization mode is more useful for land applications. RADARSAT provides images in seven sizes, termed "beam modes". They vary from fine beam mode (50X50 Km area in 10m resolution) to Scan SAR wide (which covers 500 X 500 Km area in 100 m resolution). Depending on the size of the area and level of details required, user can opt for any one of the 7 beam modes. RADARSAT also offers a range of incidence angles from 10 to 60 degrees, which can be used to provide more frequent revisit cycle (regular cycle is 24 days) and also offers opportunities to acquire stereo pairs. Differences between old and new NOAA /AVHRR Level-1B formats

Beam Mode Nominal Swath Nominal Resolution Incidence Angle Ranges (Deg)
Fine 50 8 36-48
Standard 100 25 20-49
Wide 150 30 20-49
Scan SAR (Narrow) 300 35 20-46
Scan SAR (Wide) 500 100 20-49
Extended High 75 25 49-59
Extended Low 170 35 10-23


Sensor Resolution Coverage Type of the Products Media of the Products Scale of the photo Products
AVHRR 1.1 Km (five) 2700 X 2700 Sector Based LGSOWG (Level 1B also) Digital No Photo Products


NRSC is distributing IKONOS data to Indian User Community since October 2001. NRSC procures the IKONOS data from GeoEye, U.S.A. and distributes the same to users in the government, private and academic sectors.IKONOS provides Panchromatic data with a resolution of 1m and Multi-spectral data with a resolution of 4m with 11 bit quantization. GeoEye, U.S.A., acquires IKONOS data, either in real time or by using the On Board Tape Recorder. Space Imaging, U.S.A. also has many Affiliate Ground Stations all over the world, which acquire IKONOS data when the satellite passes over these stations. The Western half of India is covered by the ground station at Dubai (Middle East) and the Eastern half of India is under the GeoEye South East Asia. Terms and conditions of data supply: Users are requested to note the following points while placing a firm order for IKONOS data: Data are supplied as per the Remote Sensing Data Policy. All IKONOS products are covered by warranty against defective or damaged products. This warranty is valid for the following periods from the date of shipment of the products : The minimum order requirement for Geo Products Suite is 49 and 100 Sq. Km for Archived and Fresh Collects respectively. AOI should be provided in terms of geographical coordinates. The width of the vertices must be at least 5 Km or more. Shape file in Arc-View format is also accepted. For stereo data, the minimum order quantity is 100 Sq. km Imagery with 20% cloud cover or less is considered as successful scene. If cloudfree imagery is requested, then a surcharge is applicable. Archive Products To qualify for archive pricing, imagery must be 6 months or older. Order Cancellations If order is cancelled due to late delivery, no fees will be assigned. If order is cancelled prior to agreed upon delivery term: 25% of order value charged if cancelled after 3 days. 50% of order value charged if cancelled after 30days Product Specifications

Format Media Projection Datum / Ellipsoid
TiFF or GeoTiFF
For Stereo TiFF, GeoTiFF or NITF


Geo (Fresh) Geo (Archive) Geo (Orthokit) Geo (Orthokit) Reference
B/W Multi Spectral 1m color Bundle B/W Multi Spectral 1m color Bundle B/W (Fresh)Multi Spectral 1m color Bundle B/W (Archive)Multi Spectral 1m color Bundle B/W (Stereo) 1m color Bundle


The Antrix Corporation Ltd. / NRSC, Department of Space, Government of India, have arrived at an agreement with M/s DigitalGlobe to distribute Quickbird data to Indian Users. As in the case of IKONOS data, all Quickbird data requirements are placed with NRSC. On behalf of the User, NRSC procures the data from DigitalGlobe and it is disseminated. Users should place the indents with NRSC in the prescribed high resolution data request form with the required undertakings as per Government guidelines. The QuickBird satellite collects both multi-spectral and panchromatic imagery concurrently. Pan-sharpened composite products in natural or infrared colors with a resolution of 70 cm are derived from the above. Panchromatic imagery is collected in 11-bit format (2048 gray levels) and delivered in 16 bit format for superior image interpretation (shadow detail, etc.), or 8-bit format (256 gray levels). The panchromatic sensor collects information at the visible and near-infrared wavelengths with a bandwidth of 450-900 nm. Four-band multi-spectral imagery consists of blue, green, red and near-infrared bands, delivered in 16-bit and 8-bit formats. In addition, Pan and Pan-sharpened Imagery are available at 60 or 70-centimetre resolution. Both strip mode and area mode imaging are supported. Strips up to 10 scenes in length (165 km) can be collected in a single pass. Areas up to 2x2 scenes can be collected in a single pass. QuickBird's on-board tape recorder gives world-wide coverage. While DigitalGlobe offers Imagery products at three levels namely, Basic Imagery, Standard Imagery and Ortho rectified Imagery It is also possible to obtain stereo data from the satellite. Standard Imagery Products Standard Imagery products are radiometrically corrected, sensor corrected, geometrically corrected, and mapped to a cartographic projection. Standard Imagery products are available as panchromatic with a 60 or 70-centimeter resolution, multi-spectral with a 2.4 or 2.8-meter resolution, or pan-sharpened (4-bands or 3 bands with natural or infrared false color) with a 60 or 70-centimeter resolution. All Standard Imagery products have a uniform pixel spacing across the entire product. All Standard products may achieve an absolute geo-location accuracy of up to 14-meter RMSE (up to 23m CE90%), excluding any topographic displacement. Ground location is derived from refined satellite attitude and ephemeris information without requiring the use of Ground Control Points (GCPs). Standard Imagery products are area based and may be ordered by the square Kilometer. The minimum order area is 25 Km2 for archived data and 64 Km2 for new acquisitions (100 Km2 for Rush Tasking). The maximum is 10,000 Km2 (2,500 Km2 for Rush Tasking). Standard Imagery products are delivered as one image file for each scene covering the user area of interest. If the order polygon intersects more than one scene, the imagery in each scene will be delivered as separate files, will not be mosaiced together to form a single image, and will not be radiometrically balanced. Product Options The following standard corrected products are distributed. Panchromatic Products Multi-spectral Products Panchromatic and Multi-spectral Bundle Pan-Sharpened Color Products In the case of bundled product, Panchromatic and Multi-spectral Bundle products will be processed to the same product level, the same product parameters, and delivered as two distinct products (one containing panchromatic imagery and one containing all four multi-spectral bands) with two sets of associated Image Support Data (ISD) files. In the case of Pan-sharpened products, the following options are available : Natural Color composite (blue, green, red) Color Infrared composite (green, red, infra-red) Pan-sharpened Color products are delivered as a single file. Pan sharpened products are available only from imagery acquired after 9 April, 2002. Three band PAN sharpened products are also offered. Product Ordering QuickBird products are either obtained directly from the QuickBird Archive or by tasking the spacecraft. There are three Commercial Tasking options for QuickBird Imagery products: Standard, Priority and Rush. New Acquisitions Tasking orders have multiple acquisition opportunities and customer-defined tasking parameters. If all collection attempts are unsuccessful, the customer will be contacted to cancel or re-instate the order. Standard Tasking This mode consists of a collection window of more than 14 days, starting at least five days after order placement. Larger areas will require longer collection periods. Maximum order size is 10,000 Km2. Standard tasking orders are not accepted if there are fewer than 3 possible attempts available. Priority Tasking It has a higher priority than standard tasking. It has a collection window of more than 7 days, starting at least four days after order placement. Maximum order size is 10,000 Km2. Priority tasking orders are not accepted if there are fewer than 2 possible attempts available. Rush Tasking It has a higher priority than priority tasking. Data is acquired in single imaging. Data is delivered in very short times. Acquistion is attempted starting at least 48 hours after order placement. Maximum order size is 2,500 Km2 in one strip Rush tasking orders are not guaranteed with any cloud cover threshold. In addition to tasking the satellite, customers may order QuickBird Imagery products directly out of the QuickBird Archive. Minimum order for Standard products is 25 km2. Digital Globe licenses data to end users rather than selling ownership rights to the data.

Order Priority

Order Priority Uplift Time between Order Placement and start collection date Image Acquisition Window
Standard included 5 days 15-365 Days
Priority +50% 4 days 7-365 Days
Rush +100% 48 hours 1-14 Days


NRSC has been distributing RADARSAT data to Indian users to meet their microwave data requirements. NRSC now has commenced distribution of European Space Agency's ENVISAT data. This satellite was launched on March 01, 2002.The satellite carries a number of instruments which aid in land, oceanographic and atmospheric studies. NRSC will distribute only Advanced Synthetic Aperture RADAR (ASAR) data from this satellite. This sensor provides all weather - day and night RADAR images. ENVISAT

Beam positions/incidence angles for Image Mode
Beam Incidence Angle Range Ground Range swath width
IS-1 14.5 Deg - 22.1 Deg 104 Km
IS-2 18.8 Deg - 26.1 Deg 103 Km
IS-3 25.8 Deg - 31.2 Deg 82 Km
IS-4 30.8 Deg - 36.1 Deg 89 Km

ASAR Processing Levels and Product Specifications Level 0. Raw data Level 0. Raw data Level 1b. Single Look Complex (SLC) Precision Image (PRI) (equivalent to a Path Image) Ellipsoid Geocoded Image (GEC) (equivalent to a Map Image) Medium Resolution Image (MR) Standard Image (Wide Mode only) Product Processing Services/h5> The processing services given below are for ENVISAT scenes archived and processed at ESA's facilities. Regular Processing Service - 2 to 3 weeks until shipping Rush Processing Service - Within 1 working day once the scene is archived NRT Processing Service * - Within 24 hours from data acquisition Programming Services ENVISAT ASAR products are either obtained from the archives or by programming the spacecraft. There are three options Standard Programming - Up to 14 working days prior to acquisition date Rush Programming - Between 14 and 7 working days prior to acquisition date Rush Programming - Between 7 and 2 working days prior to acquisition date * Subject to ESA production constraints. Available for ENVISAT ASAR data only. **Users are requested to note that the above are submission times from RSI to ESA, so please add a few days for submission to RSI by NRSC Data Ordering Users have to specify the corner coordinates of their area of interest in terms of latitude/longitude together with the requested time frame, the product type and polarization while placing an order for ASAR products. Details of ASAR Products that are distributed by NRSC are given here. ASAR data formats and projections Digital data is supplied in ENVISAT MPH/SPH format on CD-ROM or Exabyte tape. The various Projections supported are UTM, UPS, Lambert CC, TM, Mercator and PS. Quicklooks / Catalogues / Planning Software Quicklooks and accession catalogue are available online at A standalone planning software, DESCW which is updated every week manually can be downloaded from


Foreign Satellite Data Distribution