Minimize Data reader software

SMOS Toolbox / STEP Sentinel-3

SMOS Toolbox functionalities previously included in the BEAM (VISAT) application have been migrated into the new Sentinel Application Platform (STEP) for Sentinel-3.

The new SMOS Toolbox provides all BEAM (VISAT) tools: decode, display, manipulate, analyse SMOS data products (see below) plus enhanced functionalities:

  • Quick update of the SMOS reader module in case of change in the SMOS data BinX schema format
  • Enhanced Data visualisation to support SMOS NRT-Light and BUFR products
  • Better management of the flags contained in the L2 user data product
  • Better management of the geographic projections (polar view added)
  • Better management of the colour palettes (more SMOS-tuned colour scales are available).
  • Band-to-band arithmetic using bands from different versions of the same product has been also added

New NetCDF converter with the following improved functionality:

  • to preserve the full data structure of the SMOS L1C and L2 user products (i.e no raster image as available form the old converter)
  • to extract a reduced set of user defined parameters from the SMOS L1C and L2 user products
  • to define geographical bounding box for data conversion over a user defined area of interest

For more information on the converter see the SMOS NetCDF format conversion user guide available here.

The SMOS Toolbox/STEP Sentinel-3 can be downloaded at the ESA STEP website.


BEAM (VISAT) / SMOS ToolBox - Old version

BEAM is an open-source toolbox and development platform for viewing, analysing and processing of remote sensing raster data. BEAM can be used for the visualisation of individual L1 and L2 SMOS data products. For doing so, the SMOS ToolBox for BEAM (SMOS-Box) module should be added to BEAM. SMOS-Box consists of a set of BEAM-compliant software modules dedicated to the decoding, visualisation and basic analysis of operational SMOS data products. It enables the user to import SMOS L1c and L2 science data products into BEAM and use the existing BEAM functionality to decode, display, manipulate, analyse and export SMOS data products to alternative formats. ESA provides both BEAM and the SMOS-Box free of charge to the earth observation community.

SMOS data users are invited to use the new visualisation tool SMOS Toolbox/STEP Sentinel-3. The BEAM (VISAT) / SMOS ToolBox will still be available from this page but the SMOS ToolBox plugin in BEAM will not be maintained anymore.



SMOS NetCDF Conversion Tool - New version

The new SMOS NetCDF Conversion Tool is a self contained command line executable to be used for batch processing of large amounts of files. It provides the same functionality of the converter available in the SMOS ToolBox/STEP Sentinel-3 (see above).

The installation procedure and the format of the converter data are described in detail in the SMOS NetCDF format conversion user guide available here.

To download the SMOS NetCDF Conversion Tool click here.


SMOS NetCDF Conversion Tool - Old version

SMOS data users are invited to use the new SMOS NetCDF Conversion Tool (see above) which preserves the full data structure of the SMOS product. This SMOS NetCDF converter developed in the framework of BEAM will be discontinued soon with the deployment in the operational ground segment of the next version of the SMOS L1 and L2 processors (i.e baseline V6xx).

The SMOS NetCDF conversion tool is implemented as a Graph Processing Tool (GPT) operator and integrated into the BEAM framework in two different places. It can be either invoked from within VISAT Graphic User Interface or be used as a GPT-Operator for batch-processing using the command line. The SMOS NetCDF conversion tool converts SMOS L1C and L2 user products in Earth Explorer format to NetCDF-CF 4.

The size of the target NetCDF product covers the geometric bounding box of the original SMOS file. This can lead to large products, especially when the SMOS dataset crosses the anti-meridian. All pixels not covering a SMOS cell are filled with "fill" values. It is highly recommended to make use of the possibility to create regional subset products. This reduces the size of the resulting NetCDF file and increases the conversion speed significantly.

For further information on the usage of GPT see the SMOS Box section in the online help of BEAM.

A simple example to use the SMOS NetCDF conversion tool as a GPT-Operator for batch-processing is available here: GPT-ReadMe.pdf

Download: SMOS-Box for Windows 32-bit

Download: SMOS-Box for Windows 64-bit

Download: SMOS-Box for Linux

Download: SMOS-Box for Mac OS



The Binary XML is a library used to access the data of a hybrid binary-ASCII file using an XML Schema that defines the order and type of the data contained in the file. This approach makes it possible to alter the read/write format of a given hybrid file by simply changing the XML Schema.

The latest SMOS BinX schema package can be downloaded from the GMT Software Tool web page.

Download the BinaryXML



ESOV can only be used to view and select SMOS orbits, it does not read any data products. It allows the user to select the required SMOS orbits, for example over a certain area or point, and for a certain period of time. The resulting selection can then be exported as a list which can be used to select the corresponding SMOS data files.

Download: /web/guest/software-tools?p_r_p_564233524_assetIdentifier=esov-software-tools-esov-ng-and-esov-classic-1652



The SMOS Global Mapping Tool (GMT) is useful for plotting the SMOS data into a single global geographical map. The GMT is also able to visualise additional quantities derived from the SMOS data (i.e. first Stokes parameter) and to filter data based on the quality flag available in the SMOS products. The tool requires a Linux Operative System and the installation of the IDL application (licensed or virtual machine).

Download this tool from the GMT Software Tool web page, which also contains the latest SMOS BinX schema package.



The HDFViewer is suitable for viewing any data in HDF format, such as the SMOS L2 data.




RWAPI can be used to extract information from the L1 or L2 data files in Matlab, as it reads all products related to the retrieval of soil moisture (e.g. L1c, L2 UDP files) as well as some auxiliary data used as input for the L2 processor. It runs under 64 bits Linux and requires Matlab version 2009b or higher. There is no Windows version available.


To obtain a user id and password, contact Rajesh Jha.



The SMOS Comparison Tool (SCoT) can be used to compare  level 1 SMOS products of the same type generated with the same schema version for the Data Blocks (DBL). It has been designed to be used by the SMOS Calibration Expert Centre (CEC), the Expert Support Laboratories (ESL) and the Calibration and Validation teams to facilitate the comparison of level 1 products generated with  different L1 processor configurations or algorithm baselines.

SCoT Software Tool



SMOSView provides a quick and easy look at SMOS data products. It is especially useful for getting an idea of the structure and contents of the data files. It is better suited to viewing data in detail than for global mapping. The software enables a user to decode and display data from SMOS products, display the contents as images or graphs and export the data to a number of alternative formats. It has a graphical user interface for data exploration and visualization.