Alaska Satellite Facility
Delivering Remote Sensing Data Since 1991

Mystery Waters

Oceans supply more than half the oxygen in the atmosphere, are the planet's largest carbon sink, influence weather, are critical source of food and minerals, serve as highways for ships, and draw people to their beaches and waters. Yet scientists have only begun to explore the world’s oceans, which cover more than two thirds of the planet.

Oceans Through Remote Sensing

Remote sensing offers important methods of detecting oceans’ secrets. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR), used to create the majority of the imagery available in the ASF archive, is among the power tools of remote sensing and is contributing significantly to ocean science. SAR bounces a microwave radar signal off the Earth's surface to detect physical properties. Unlike optical technology, SAR can "see" through darkness, clouds, and rain. SAR is providing scientists with information about the oceans’ varied ice cover and on hydrodynamic processes such as surface and internal waves, fronts, eddies, wind, and storms.

Seasat: Newly Digitized 1978 Imagery See Seasat

The scientific value of Seasat’s SAR is extensive, providing unique and unexpected views of the dynamic ocean surface and sea ice cover.


The North Sea off the coast of England. View full image to see two boats and their wakes in the top half of the image. Data captured August 20, 1978 by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.The North Sea off the coast of England. View full image to see two boats and their wakes in the top half of the image. Data captured August 20, 1978 by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.
Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay in Washington State.  Data captured August 10, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay in Washington State. Data captured August 10, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.
Mouth of the Columbia River and the Oregon coastline. Data captured August 10, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.Mouth of the Columbia River and the Oregon coastline. Data captured August 10, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.
A scene from northeast Russia. Data captured August 20, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.A scene from northeast Russia. Data captured August 20, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.
A scene from Teepee Park, Yukon, Canada. Data collected July 21, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.A scene from Teepee Park, Yukon, Canada. Data collected July 21, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.
Isla Cedros, Baja California. Data collected July 21, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.Isla Cedros, Baja California. Data collected July 21, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.
Uncle Sam Bank, Pacific Ocean, Baja California. View full image to see a boat as a small white dot in the upper right quadrant is a boat. Data collected July 21, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.Uncle Sam Bank, Pacific Ocean, Baja California. View full image to see a boat as a small white dot in the upper right quadrant is a boat. Data collected July 21, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.
Alaska's Kuskokwim Delta. Data collected July 13, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.Alaska's Kuskokwim Delta. Data collected July 13, 1978, by the historic Seasat mission. Image processed by ASF, 2013. © NASA 1978.
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.