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Remote Sensing Technology Center of Japan



World-first technology for L-band SAR brings a colorful image of Earth surface The L-band single polarization SAR imagery coloration technology (SPICE SAR) on board the “Daichi 2”, Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS 2)


The Remote Sensing Technology Center of Japan (RESTEC) has successfully developed the technology to turn monochrome images taken by the L-band SAR*1 sensor into color images. The L-band SAR sensor was successfully launched aboard the “Daichi 2”, Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS-2), from Tanegashima on May 24 by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Existing single polarization SAR imagery (see image top) are monochrome, which many of our customers found made it difficult to decipher land surface detail. So RESTEC has come up with a technology that brings SAR imagery closer to the coloration of optical imagery*2, showing the true color of greenery, water surfaces in deep blue, and land in brown-gray. Using this technology, RESTEC will be able to offer you SAR imagery that is easy to decipher, with likely applications in a wide range of fields.

This technology is unique in that it can color one SAR image at a time and does not affect resolution. With the patent under application, RESTEC can claim that this is a world-first technology with regard to coloration technique and full resolution maintenance. RESTEC intends to continue its efforts to widen the applications of satellite imagery using global leading Japanese L-band SAR technology.


SAR image from ALOS *3


Color image from aircraft SAR (Pi-SAR-L2) *4

*1. L-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) is a radar using L-band microwaves mounted on a satellite that sees through clouds and smoke, enabling observation of the Earth’s surface under conditions where the surface is obscured, unlike optical imagery.

*2. Optical images are derived from visible light, therefore may detect clouds and smoke. Appearance is similar to digital photography.

*3. A SAR image taken by Daichi, the Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS).

*4. An image captured by L-band SAR mounted on an aircraft, with coloration applied. The image was taken by a sensor of the same type found aboard the ALOS-2.