Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR) Remote Sensing Basics and Applications

This post will provide an overview of the basics of Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR) and applications. The main topics discussed in the listed documents include: SAR basics, backscatter, geometry, interferometry, polarimetry, SAR data, data acquisition, available data sets/access to data, data analysis tools, future missions and SAR applications.

What is RADAR? – RAdio Detection And Ranging

What is SAR? – Synthetic Aperture Radar – Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is an active remote sensing technology that uses microwave energy to illuminate the surface. The system records the elapsed time an d energy of the return pulse received by the antenna.

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Synthetic Aperature Radar (SAR) Tutorials

  1. A Tutorial on Synthetic Aperture RADAR – ESA (PDF )  (PDF) (Radiometric Calibration of SAR Image)
  2. The Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation (CCMEO) is considered an international leader in the development and use of synthetic aperture radar or SAR sensors.  From space, SAR can image the Earth’s surface through clouds and in total darkness.  This makes it a tremendously useful sensor for monitoring Canada’s changing landmass and coastal zones. CCMEO scientists have worked with the Canadian Space Agency in the development of both RADARSAT 1 and RADARSAT 2  satellite missions.  Their research has led to improved data quality through enhanced sensor design and post-launch calibration and validation activities.
  3. This training manual introduces and explains Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR), including applications for data from the Envisat ASAR sensor and how to combine Envisat and ERS images to produce interferograms and differential interferograms.
  4. Synthetic Aperture RADARs Imaging Basics (PDF)
  5. NOAA SAR Manual (PDF)
  6. Synthetic-aperture imaging from high-Doppler-resolution measurements (PDF)
  7. A Mathematical Tutorial on Synthetic Aperture RADAR (PDF)
  8. Remote sensed ground control points with TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X (PDF)

Synthetic Aperature Radar (SAR) Applications

  1. Infrastructure Monitoring with Spaceborne SAR Sensors (Link)
  2. Soil Moisture Measurements by SAR (PDF)
  3. Marine applications: Sea Ice (Link), Marine Winds (PDF), Oil Pollution (PDF)
  4. Land deformation (Link)
  5. Flood Mapping (PDF) (PDF)

Tutorials on SAR

Earthdata Webinar Series: Discover Simplified SAR Solutions at NASA ASF DAAC

NASA ARSET: Basics of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Sessions 4

This video is part of the Australian National University course 'Advanced Remote Sensing and GIS' (ENVS3019 / ENVS6319)

PCI Geomatics Live stream- Advanced SAR training course

SAR Data Processing Shri Shashi Kumar (ISRO)

Synthetic Aperture Radar Applications

Space Based SAR Systems


Launched in 1995, C-band HH-polirzation, Canadian Space Agency

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Launched in 2007, C-band quad-polirzation, MDA, CSA


Launched in 2014/15, C-band dual-polirzation, European Space Agency (ESA)

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Launched in 2012, C-band single/dual & Circular Polirzation, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)

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Terra SAR-X / TanDEM-X

launched in 2007/10, X-band quad polirzation, DLR/Astrium, Germany

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Launched in 2014, L-band quad polirzation, Japanese Space Agency (JAXA)

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Launched in 2007/10, 4 Satellites X-band dual polirzation, ASI/Italy

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Launched in 2013,  S-band (HH or VV) polarization CRESDA/CAST/NRSCC, China

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Launched in 2014, X-band quad polarization, Ministry of Defence, Spain

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Launched in 2013, X-band dual polarization, KARI, Korea

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SAOCOM – 1/2

Launched in 2016/18, L-band quad polarization, CONAE/ASI, Argentina

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NASA-ISRO Systhetic Aperture Radar (RISAT)

will launch in

RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM)

Will launch in 2019 three satellites, C-band quad compact polirzation, Canadian Space Agency (CSA)

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