ASTER - Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer

ASTER on Terra satellite

ASTER on Terra satellite
© Geoscience Australia

Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) is a sensor onboard the Terra satellite (pictured right), launched in December 1999. The Terra satellite also carries the MODIS sensor and follows a similar orbit to Landsat 7. ASTER is the result of a cooperative effort between NASA and Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Japan Space Systems (formerly ERSDAC).

ASTER data may be used for a range of applications including land-use studies, mapping, geology, water resources, coastal resources, environment and generation of digital elevation models (DEM).

  • How to order ASTER imagery and data

    Satellite characteristics

    ASTER's spectral bands and spatial resolution are generally more detailed than those of Landsat, meaning it is particularly useful for geological studies as well as environmental monitoring. However, unlike Landsat, repeat coverage by the ASTER sensor is more infrequent.

    The ASTER instrument consists of three separate instrument subsystems:

    • Visible and Near Infrared (VNIR)
    • Shortwave Infrared (SWIR) - No longer functioning 
    • Thermal Infrared (TIR).

    ASTER has 14 bands of information according to the following table:

    Instrument VNIR SWIR TIR
    Bands 1-3 4-9 10-14
    Spatial resolution 15m 30m 90m
    Swath width 60km 60km 60km
    Cross track pointing ± 318km
    (24 deg)
    ±116km
    8.55 deg)
    ±116km
    (8.55 deg)
    Quantisation (bits) 8 8 12
    Note: Band 3 has nadir and backward telescopes for stereo pairs from a single orbit.

    The spectral range of each band is shown in the following diagram and table (courtesy NASA):

    ASTER spectral bands, courtesy NASA
    Characteristic VNIR SWIR TIR
    Spectral Range Band 1: 0.52 - 0.60 «m
    (visible green)
    Nadir looking
    Band 4: 1.600 - 1.700 «m Band 10: 8.125 - 8.475 «m
    Band 2: 0.63 - 0.69 «m
    (visible red)
    Nadir looking
    Band 5: 2.145 - 2.185 «m Band 11: 8.475 - 8.825 «m
    Band 3: 0.76 - 0.86 «m
    (near infra-red)
    Nadir looking
    Band 6: 2.185 - 2.225 «m Band 12: 8.925 - 9.275 «m
    Band 3: 0.76 - 0.86 «m
    (near infra-red)
    Backward looking
    Band 7: 2.235 - 2.285 «m Band 13: 10.25 - 10.95 «m
    - Band 8: 2.295 - 2.365 «m Band 14: 10.95 - 11.65 «m
    - Band 9: 2.360 - 2.430 «m -

Topic contact: earth.observation@ga.gov.au Last updated: January 28, 2014