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BEST - Basic Envisat SAR Toolbox

version 4.2.2-b (February 2008)


News: NEST - Next ESA SAR Toolbox

10/07/2013 Release 5.0.10 beta available

Since 2008 the NEST (Next ESA SAR Toolbox) software is also available. NEST is a new ESA toolbox with an integrated viewer for the reading, analysing and post-processing of ESA and 3rd party SAR data starting from Level 1. Distributed as fully open source, NEST easily allows users the development of new readers and post-processors for SAR data by means of an Application Programming Interface (API). More info



BEST is a collection of executable software tools that has been developed to facilitate the use of ESA SAR data. The purpose of the Toolbox is not to duplicate existing commercial packages, but to complement them with functions dedicated to the handling of SAR products obtained from the ASAR (Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar) onboard Envisat and the AMIs (Active Microwave Instrument) onboard ERS 1/2.

These pages give you access to the BEST software and to the information you will need to run it. The buttons on the left provide access to:

  • Software from where you can download the Toolbox, and find instructions to install it,

  • Documentation where a PDF version of the User Manual is available,

  • Examples of output images from BEST and the configuration files (.ini files) needed to generate these.

Toolbox Functionality

  • Data Import and Quick Look: basic tools for extraction of data from standard format ESA SAR products, generation of quick look images, import of TIFF and GeoTIFF files and generic raster data.

  • Data Export: output of data to selected common formats (TIFF, GEOTIFF, BIL), generation of RGB composites.

  • Data Conversion: conversion between different image formats, transformation of data by flipping or slant range to ground range re-projection, calculation of sensitivity vectors. ASAR WSS Detection and azimuth mosaicking, Range mosaicking and multilook.

  • Statistical: calculation of global or local statistical parameters from real image data, computation of the principal components of multiple images.

  • Resampling: over and under sampling of an image by means of spatial and spectral methods.

  • Co-registration: automatic co-registration of two or more real or complex images (including ERS/Envisat pairs), evaluation of quality parameters.

  • Support for Interferometry: computation of orbital baseline from DORIS files, calculation of interferometric coherence, evaluation of altitude of ambiguity.

  • Speckle Filtering: improvement of the radiometric resolution of a backscatter image.

  • Image Geo-correction: geocoding process to georeference input ASAR ground range detected product (i.e. ASA_IMP_1, ASA_IMM_1, ASA_WSM_1 etc.) and ERS-PGS (IMP, IMM) data.

  • Calibration: radiometric correction of Envisat and ERS images including retro-calibration of ASAR products and wide-swath image refinement.

Input Data Products

The Toolbox has been designed to handle ESA data products from both the Envisat ASAR instrument and the AMI on ERS 1&2.

ASAR data acquired in Image Mode, Wide Swath Mode, Alternating Polarisation Mode or Global Monitoring Mode may be input, along with ERS image data processed both by the VMP processor and by the ERS PGS processor (CEOS and Envisat format). The Toolbox is capable of reading all Level 1b processed data and, in the case of ERS data, products from all 4 ESA Processing and Archiving Facilities plus many "foreign" stations.

Example ASAR Data Products

Sample Envisat ASAR products can be downloaded from Earth Online

Platforms Supported

The tools are portable on the following platforms: Windows™ 98/2000/ME/NT/XP, LinuX, SUN(Sparc)

Human Machine Interface

The Toolbox has 2 graphical user interfaces that enable the operator to easily specify the processing parameters required by each tool.

Contact the ESA EO Help Desk

If you would like to know more about BEST, make comments about the software or suggest improvements for future versions, you can contact us at the ESA Earth Observation Help Desk using this form. You can use the same form to report software problems. Please also refer to Known issues and bugs and FAQ pages.