Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Software Science

ESA Embraces Open Source With New SAR Toolbox 62

phyr writes "The European Space Agency (ESA) has released its Next ESA SAR Toolbox (NEST) freely as GPL for Linux and Windows. It provides an integrated viewer for reading, calibrating, post-processing and analysis of ESA (ERS 1&2, ENVISAT) and 3rd party (Radarsat2, TerraSarX, Alos Palsar, JERS) SAR level 1 data and higher. ESA has chosen to distribute the software as fully open source to allow the remote sensing community to easily develop new readers/writers and post-processors for SAR data with their NEST Java API. The software provides both a command line interface and GUI for all features including data conversion, graph processing, coregistration, multilooking, filtering, and band arithmetic."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

ESA Embraces Open Source With New SAR Toolbox

Comments Filter:
  • FINALLY !!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @04:09PM (#26334221) Journal
    Now that we have what every user needed, Linux is finally ready for the desktop.
  • SAR (Score:5, Informative)

    by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Monday January 05, 2009 @04:10PM (#26334257) Homepage Journal

    Synthetic Aperture Radar []

  • Visualization (Score:4, Interesting)

    by johnny maxwell ( 1050822 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @04:23PM (#26334451)

    A not totally off-topic question: Can anyone recommend a free data visualization and analysis/plotting package? Something a bit more powerful than gnuplot :)

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PeterBrett ( 780946 )

      R []?

      • R rocks. Nothing like a Turing complete plotting package. The learning curve is a bit steep, but the tutorial PDFs are a good start.

        R graphs are not "pretty". There are no 3D exploding pie charts because they take a very Edward Tufte approach to make sure the graph types maximise understanding. As a result I think they have minimalist beauty.

      • by hcpxvi ( 773888 )
        Seconded. Over the last half-decade or so, R has gone from feeble and crashy to absolutely rock-solid. I use it all the time. And the graphical output is generally clean and clear by default. Despite coming from a stats background it is not just for biologists and social scientists, it is equally suitable for hard science plotting tasks. Now, if I could only persuade more of my colleagues to accept it. The will insist on being sucked in by MATLAB and the drug-dealer selling tactics of its sellers.
        • Sadly, I haven't yet found a tool which makes as nice EPS output as MATLAB for the purposes of embedding in my reports. Typically nowadays I do all my work in Octave, then SSH into the lab so that I can run MATLAB and generate EPS from the data...

          I do actually need to learn to use R. My fiancee had to learn it for her computational statistics course last year -- that's the only reason I know about it.

    • In the same vein, does anyone know what happened to SeeSoft?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jd ( 1658 )

      OpenDX [] is good. is also popular, leading to some nice packages like MayaVi2. ChomboVis [] is no longer under development but may also prove useful. GGobi [] is another very nice toolkit. For a more mathematical visualization, there's also always Octave [].

    • by pato101 ( 851725 )
      Check grace or xmgrace (successor of xmgr)
    • by tizan ( 925212 )
      matplotlib and pylab []
  • This is great stuff. I'm planning on starting a PhD course in remote sensing applications with SAR in July, and I'm sure this will be fantastically useful! I was worrying about struggling with proprietary licensing (argh Matlab argh argh)... maybe this will let me avoid it.

  • They use way better stuff than this every week on CSI: Miami.
  • The software is released free and open source, however you have to pay shipping+handling for the patented white medical mask.

  • To be honest, I find this an interesting turn for a space agency. Releasing this sort of spec allows for the nearly endless genius of the internet to produce hundreds of completely awesome and powerful viewers for this sort of data.

    I don't know if the ESA pictured doing this, but in the future, they can just choose from a half-dozen open source projects that far outstrip whatever they were using before. Good show!

  • by reddish ( 646830 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:05PM (#26334989) Homepage

    ESA has been sponsoring FOSS projects for years; I worked on the GPL'ed BEAT [] software no less than seven years ago that was commissioned by ESA (disclosure: I am no longer with the company that develops it).

    See here [] for more examples of open source software funded by ESA. They are really ahead of the pack in this respect.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Originally, the LEON SPARC clone was from ESA.
      Before that, there was the ESA ERC32 SPARC processor.

      Now the project is sponsored by ESA and done by

    • Who would have guessed a publicly funded research organisation would contribute knowledge back to the community?
      • It's all too rare in Europe, and in that respect we are positively mediaeval compared to the US. The thinking here is that government organizations should charge as much as they can for specialist products (as opposed to public services intended for everyone), in order to reduce their burden for the taxpayer. On top of that, in some fields we have public-private partnerships where are single private company resells government-created data to the public.
    • by jlar ( 584848 ) on Monday January 05, 2009 @08:25PM (#26337529)

      Unfortunately ESA has a data policy which is lightyears behind that of NASA. While NASA data are just a click away, ESA data are tied up in red tape.

      At least that was my experience some years ago.

    • by okock ( 701281 )
      Thanks for pointing this out. Actually NEST is based on BEAM [], which is currently in version 4.5 (this tool is the first one referenced on the esa page [] you linked)
  • I'm not an astronomer, and I am completely at a loss for what all these acronyms actually say, other than speculating that it has something to do with processing radio-telescope data...

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They are all Earth observing satellites using Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR). Satellite sends down a radar pulse, picks up the backscattered returns and processes it into an image. From there analysis can tell you a bunch of things: you can monitor sea ice, detect oil slicks, find ships, monitor vegetation, etc. For a lot of applications SAR is excellent because the pulses go right through clouds and you do not need solar illumination to be able to see.

  • The article points to the Array Systems Computing Inc. [] site, which seems to be slashdotted.

    Information about the tools is also available from the ESA website. []

  • Two other very related open source SAR/radar tools: RAT [], from the project's website: "Our motivation to start the development of RAT is that modern remote sensing software like Erdas Image or ENVI include only some basic SAR functionality. Advanced algorithms in SAR polarimetry (PolSAR), interferometry (InSAR) and polarimetric interferometry (PolInSAR) have to be implemented by oneself. So we descided to start the development of RAT. RAT should bring modern SAR algorithms to a wider user-base by simplifying

  • Opticks is developed in the U.S. and is also open source, uses the QT library and C++ and is certified for use under Windows and Solaris. It could be compiled for Linux and/or OSX by anyone determined enough to get it compiled. When I last examined the source code, it's build system was focused around Visual C++.

    Opticks lists compatibility for reading SAR data and it would be interesting to see what it took to read from the mentioned sensors. It is fully capable of dealing with multiple image or motion

Truth is free, but information costs.