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Fact Sheet 2008–3066

Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) Overview

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched Terra, the Earth Observing System’s (EOS) flagship satellite platform on December 18, 1999. The polar-orbiting Terra contains five remote sensing instruments, which enable the scientific study and analyses of global terrestrial processes and manifestations of global change. One of the five instruments is the multispectral Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), which is built in Japan by a consortium of government, industry, and research groups. It has three spectral bands in the visible near-infrared region (VNIR), six bands in the shortwave infrared region (SWIR), and five bands in the thermal infrared region (TIR), with 15-, 30-, and 90-meter ground resolutions, respectively. This combination of wide spectral coverage and high spatial resolution allows ASTER to discriminate among a wide variety of surface materials. The VNIR subsystem also has a backward-viewing telescope for high-resolution (15-meter) stereoscopic observation in the along-track direction, which facilitates the generation of digital elevation models (DEM).

Version 1.2

Posted June 18, 2009

For additional information contact:
U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
(605) 594-6151
World Wide Web:

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Suggested citation:

U.S. Geological Survey, 2008, Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) overview: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2008–3066, 2 p.

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