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Training Workshop on PolSARpro Software

Training Workshop team

Pr. Eric Pottier, Dr. L. Ferro-Famil, Maxim Neumann, Stefan Sauer (I.E.T.R – SAPHIR team) and Dr. Tim Pearson (RSAC).


The PolSARpro v2.0 software was developed under contract to ESA (“Development of a Polarimetric SAR Image Analysis Tool”, ESA–ESRIN Contract n° 17863/03/I–LG) where the initiative was a direct result of recommendations made during the Workshop on “Applications of SAR Polarimetry and Polarimetric Interferometry (POLINSAR 2003)” held in January 2003 at ESRIN, Frascati, Italy

The main objective of this project was to provide an Educational Software that offers a tool for self-education in the field of Polarimetric SAR data analysis at University level and a comprehensive suite of functions for the scientific exploitation of fully and partially polarimetric multi-data sets and the development of applications for such data.

The PolSARpro v2.0 Software establishes a foundation for the exploitation of Polarimetric techniques for scientific developments and stimulates research and applications developments using PolSAR and PolInSAR data.

The PolSARpro V2.0 Software proposes today a great collection of well-established algorithms and tools designed to handle and convert polarimetric data from a range of polarimetric Airborne Sensors (AIRSAR, Convair, EMISAR, ESAR, PISAR, RAMSES) and from a range of past, actual or future and planned Spaceborne Sensors (ENVISAT-ASAR, ALOS-PALSAR, RADARSAT2, TerraSAR X and SIRc). The PolSARpro v2.0 software is provided with a wide-ranging tutorial and comprehensive documentation offering grounding in polarimetry and polarimetric interferometry necessary to stimulate research and development of scientific applications that exploit polarimetric data and techniques. Users have access to a comprehensive in-depth documentation permitting self-education to a high level (radar experts and post graduate students).

The PolSARpro v2.0 Software is developed to be accessible to a wide range of users, and is conceived as a flexible environment, proposing a friendly and intuitive graphical user interface (GUI). This graphical user interface (GUI), written in Tcl-Tk (207809 lines) manages today around 132 widget windows which control 494 C routines (215544 lines) performing well-established algorithms in the field of polarimetric radar signal processing. Due to its modular structure, each element of the software (a function) can be incorporated individually into users’ own processing software, and users can easily add new functions and components, as their need arises.

The PolSARpro v2.0 Software is running today on the following platforms: Windows 98+, Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, Windows XP, Linux I386 and Unix Solaris, and is made available following the Open Source Software Development (OSSD) approach. The PolSARpro v2.0 Software (source code and elements software packages) is made publicly available for free download on the Internet from the ESA Web Portal (Earthnet) at:

Today a new version of the sotfware (PolSARpro v3.0) is continued to be developed under contract to ESA (“Continued Development of PolSARpro Software”, C.C.N to ESA–ESRIN Contract n° 17863/03/I–LG) by a consortium comprising I.E.T.R at the University of Rennes 1, DLR-HR, AELc and Dr Mark L. Williams in Australia.

Aim of the Training Workshop

The primary objective of this Training Workshop is to provide insights into the main functionalities proposed in the PolSARpro v2.0 Software, illustrated with demonstrations of the Tool. Some new functionalities proposed in the PolSARpro v3.0 – beta1 Software will also be presented.

The workshop is particularly addressed to novices or experts in the field of Polarimetry and Interferometric Polarimetric SAR data processing, wishing to discover the functionalities offered by the PolSARpro v2.0 software.

This Training Workshop combines both, a lecture / practice course and a practical course in handling Polarimetric data.

Training Workshop Organization

During the Training Workshop, the three following key topics are considered:

  • General presentation of the Software
  • PolSARpro v2.0 – E.O Scientific Investigator package
  • PolSARpro v3.0 beta 1 – PolInSAR Tutorial with Simulated Data
  • PolSARpro v2.0 – Single data set package.

In topics 2 and 4, different selected key functionalities are presented in the form of simple lectures, introducing the essential aspects of the widget handling. Participants are then encouraged to run a simple illustrating and demonstrating exercise in a classical workshop fashion.

The Training Workshop is ended with a practical course to illustrate a complete Polarimetric data processing chain.

Training Workshop Programme

09h00 – 09h30

Topic 1: General Presentation of the PolSARpro Software

This first topic concerns the presentation of the software architectural design, the environment interface, the modular structure, the directories organisation, the data management …

This first part is completed with a presentation of some of the key functionalities: Help, Tutorial, Lecture Courses, Display, Tools etc …

09h30 – 10h00

Topic 2: PolSARpro v2.0 – EO Scientific Investigator Package

The PolSARpro software package proposes different specific interfaces, with identical functionalities dedicated to Spaceborne Sensors (ALOS-PALSAR, RADARSAT2, and SIRc) or Airborne Sensors (AIRSAR, Convair, EMISAR, ESAR, PISAR, RAMSES and TOPSAR) data processing. This EO Scientific Investigator specific interface proposes a ‘recommended’ processing chain summarizing essential functionalities in order to provide a first and simple qualitative analysis of the processed fully polarimetric data set (Speckle Filter, H / A / a Decomposition and analysis, Unsupervised Wishart - H / A / a Classification).

During this second part, theses different processing functions are presented and illustrated with a demonstration exercise.

10h00 – 11h00

Topic 3: PolSARpro v3.0 – Pol-InSAR Tutorial with Simulated Data

The objective of this third part is to provide a self taught introduction to Pol-InSAR coherence processing techniques to enable users to learn the basic principles of this topic and to enable them to use more confidently and knowledgably airborne and spaceborne Pol-InSAR processing tools developed under the PolSARpro software. To achieve this, it is proposed to employ a test Pol-InSAR data set with ‘perfect’ ground truth. This test set is the ‘hedge’ simulation output from the Pol-InSAR simulator (included in the PolSARpro v3.0 – beta1 software) and already widely used as a test scene in Pol-InSAR training. The test data set is designed to mimic the same performance of airborne / spaceborne systems, except there are no residual motion, baseline or co-registration errors and no problems associated with temporal and SNR decorrelation sources. In this way the users can get used to Pol-InSAR principles in a controlled environment before applying the techniques to real world data sets.

11h00 – 11h30

Coffee Break

11h30 – 12h30

Topic 4: PolSARpro v2.0 – Single Data Set Package

The PolSARpro Full Software package proposes a great collection of well-established algorithms and tools designed for the analysis of Single Data Set Polarimetric SAR data (Single Channel) with specialized functionalities for in-depth analysis of fully and partially polarimetric data and the development of applications for such data.

During this fourth part, different functionalities corresponding to a complete polarimetric data processing chain are presented. Each topic is illustrated with a short demonstration exercise. (Environment, Import Raw Binary Data, Sub Area Extraction, Polarimetric data conversion, Change of polarisation basis, Speckle filetring, Data processing: polarimetric elements representation, Polarimetric decompositions and analysis, Unsupervised Wishart-H/A/a Classification, Supervised polarimetric Wishart segmentation) and other new functionalities like Calibration assessment, Statistics etc …

These different functionalities will be illustrated using ALOS/PALSAR full polarimetric data sets.

12h30 – 13h30

Practical Course

This laboratory course is based on a “Do it yourself” approach. A complete polarimetric data processing chain is proposed to be done by the participants in order to illustrate and concretise the Training Workshop.


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