Alaska Satellite Facility
Delivering Remote Sensing Data Since 1991

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Create a DEM using Sentinel-1 Data 

Adapted from the STEP Community Forum by ASF staff 


This Sentinel-1 digital elevation model (DEM) recipe allows the user to create a DEM product from two Sentinel-1 SLC scenes. The user first creates an interferogram, and completes the appropriate phase unwrapping steps, and finally creates the DEM. 

Pair Selection for DEMs

ASF’s baseline tool may be used to select a pair of Sentinel-1 images to create the DEM. The baseline tool can be accessed as a stand-alone tool, or via a Vertex search. The optimum pair for DEM creation would have a large perpendicular baseline and a small temporal baseline. 


Sentinel-1's C-Band doesn't penetrate vegetation. This means that DEMs derived from C-band don't actually measure the earth's surface, rather they show the top of the canopy. C-band also has lower coherence than L-band because of vegetative decorrelation. 

Sentinel-1 does have excellent temporal coverage, meaning that the temporal decorrelation is lower than with previous sensors. Sentinel-1 should be excellent for creating DEMs of barren land or urban areas. 

A complete geocoded terrain-corrected Sentinel-1 DEM
A complete geocoded terrain-corrected Sentinel-1 DEM. Credit: Contains modified Copernicus
Sentinel data 2015, processed by ESA.

Get SAR Data

Get SAR Data

Select and download SAR data online using Vertex.

Use the ASF API for downloading SAR data via a command line.