Mission Objectives

The main objective of the ALOS mission was to provide the user community with data of sufficient resolution to be able to generate 1:25,000 scale maps. The main application areas of the ALOS exploitation were:

  • Land use and land cover research (high-resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM), orthophoto image, land use and land cover data)
  • Topography and geology (high-resolution DEM, orthophoto image, elevation change)
  • Terrestrial (vegetation) ecosystem/agriculture and forestry research (forest distribution, vegetation biomass distribution measurement, application to forest management, monitoring the productivity of pastures and crop land, vegetation change, desertification)
  • Climatic system, hydrological processes, and water resources-related research (vegetation, soil moisture, run-off analysis, water pollution analysis, high-resolution DEM, land use / land cover, snow and ice/glacier related analysis)
  • Oceanography and coastal zone-related research (oil spill, high-resolution DEM)
  • Coastal zones, sea surface wind, wave height, wave current and ocean dynamics, sea ice etc.)
  • Disasters (volcano, flooding, earthquakes etc.)
  • Renewable resources
  • Basic studies on scattering and interferometric characteristics (decomposition method for polarimetric SAR data, polarimetric and interferometric data)

The mission's optical and an active L-band microwave sensor payload delivered data that can be used for environmental and hazard monitoring.


The ALOS satellite contained three sensors that were used for cartography and disaster monitoring of Asia and the Pacific.

The ALOS Kyoto and Carbon Initiative was a cooperative research with 20 international research institutions. The purpose of this project is to study the relationship between changes in the global environment and changes in forests, their surrounding areas, swamplands and deserts, which account for about 30% of the global land area, by observing their long-term and seasonal changes in a broad scope through the onboard synthetic aperture PALSAR radar. The study was based on the analysis of the observation data as well as a site survey. JAXA carried out global observations including on tropical rain forests in South America, Southeast Asia, and Central Africa, and the boreal forests in Siberia, Canada and Alaska.

ALOS was used to analyse several disaster sites. Images of the devastated Japanese coast following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami were among the last major contributions from ALOS.