Minimize What does PolSARpro do?

Supported Data

The Toolbox currently handles dual-pol and full-pol data from the following airborne and spaceborne missions:

Airborne Spaceborne
EMISAR Envisat ASAR (Alternating pol)
E-SAR and F-SAR RADARSAT-2: dual-pol and quad-Pol
Pi-SAR ALOS PALSAR: dual pol and quad pol (level 1.1 and 1.5
JAXA CEOS and ERSDAC-Vexcel data format)
SETHI TerraSAR-X: dual pol SSC, ECC, GEC, MGD formats
UAVSAR quad-pol (SLC and GRD)  
  ALOS-2 PALSAR: dual-pol and quad-pol (level 1.1 - JAXA CEOS data format)
  COSMO-SkyMed (dual-pol, HD5 data format)
  RISAT (dual-pol and compact-pol (RH,RV) or (LH,LV))
  ESA Sentinel-1A dual-pol (level-1 SLC, IW and EW modes)
  TanDEM-X (dual-pol SSC)

A list of supported spaceborne products:

Satellite Sensor Mode Product
ENVISAT-ASAR Alternating pol ASA_APS_1P
ALOS-PALSAR Dual Pol., quad-pol PLR 1.1
PLR 1.5 R Geo-reference
PLR 1.5 R Geo-coded
RADARSAT-2 Fine SLC - Dual Pol
Standard SLC - Dual Pol
Fine Quad-Pol SLC - QUAD Pol
Standard Quad-Pol SLC - QUAD Pol
TerraSAR-X Stripmap (SM) SSC - Dual pol
MGD - Dual pol
GEC - Dual pol
EEC - Dual pol
ALOS-2 PALSAR Dual-pol, quad-pol PLR 1.1
RISAT CFRS1, FRS1, MRS Dual-pol and compact-pol SLC level-1
Sentinel-1A IW and EW modes Dual-pol SLC level-1
COSMO-SkyMed Dual-pol SLC level-1
TanDEM-X Stripmap SSC dual-pol

Further information about these missions can be found on the Airborne Data Sources and Spaceborne Data Sources pages.

Compatibility with these planned sensors will be added when data becomes available.

Basic operating philosophy

The PolSARpro software is controlled through a user-friendly, intuitive graphical interface, which enables the user to select a function, set its parameters and then run it.

The software environment is flexible, developed to be accessible to a wide range of users - from novices to experts - in the field of Polarimetric SAR data processing.PolSARpro data processing routines are written in C (> 1000 routines) and the GUI is written in Tcl-Tk. The software is accompanied by in-depth online help, technical documentation for developers and a tutorial programme permitting self-education to a high level.


The tools currently contained in the toolbox are divided into the following groups:

Data Import

  • Import supported data formats and raw binary data;
  • Quicklook image generation;
  • Sub area or full resolution extraction

Data Conversion

  • Fully Polarimetric Data Format Conversion:
    • from Sinclair Matrix (S3, S4) to Coherency Matrix (T3, T4) or Covariance Matrix (C3, C4)
    • from Coherency Matrix (T3 or T4) to Covariance Matrix (C3 or C4)
    • from Covariance Matrix (C3 or C4) to Coherency Matrix (T3 or T4)
  • Convert Fully Polarimetric Data to Partial Polarimetric Data

Basis Change

  • From (H-V) polarisation basis to:
    • pre-defined linear basis (± 45°)
    • pre-defined circular basis (L/R)
    • elliptical basis (phi, tau)

Speckle Filters

  • Box Car Filter, Gaussian Filter, Refined Lee Filter or Idan Filter
  • Box-Car + Edge detectors
  • C. Lopez and Lee-Sigma speckle filters
    Speckle filters can be applied to SLC (S2) data, MLC (T3, T4, C3, or C4) data or Partial Polarimetric data

Data Processing

  • Sinclair (S2), Coherency (T3 or T4) or Covariance (C3 or C4) parameters processing
  • Polarimetric Whitening Filter (PWF), Optimal Polarimetric Contrast Enhancement (OPCE), Radar Cross Section (RCS) maximisation
  • Polarisation Synthesis, Polarimetric Signature Analysis
  • Polarimetric Decompositions (Huynen, Barnes, Holm, Cloude, Krogager, Freeman, Cameron)
  • H / A / alpha decomposition:
    • Decomposition parameters
    • Eigenvector set parameters
    • Eigenvalue set parameters
  • Supervised Wishart classification
  • Unsupervised (H / alpha), (A / alpha), (H / A) classifications
  • Unsupervised Wishart H / A / alpha classification
  • Basic scattering mechanism identification
  • Sub Aperture Analysis (decomposition, applications)
  • Surface Inversion (Oh model, Dubois model)
  • Polarimetric Statistics:
    • Data analysis (mean, std, 3rd, 4th moments)
    • Data distribution, histogram
  • Edge detectors: Canny, Black, Marr and Rothwell edge detector procedures
  • Data Clustering
  • Polarimetric Entropy according Shannon theory - courtesy of Jerome Morio and Philippe Refregier from University of Aix – Marseille III (Institut Fresnel - Marseille)
  • Coefficient of Variation
  • Lueneburg Anisotropy coefficient
  • Generalized Freeman – Yamaguchi 3-components decomposition
  • Yamaguchi 4-components decomposition - (published in 2007)
  • Freeman 2-components decomposition - (published in 2006)
  • Unsupervised segmentation based on the generalized Freeman – Yamaguchi 3-components decomposition
  • 24bits RGB BMP representation of the dual-polarimetric data based on the Stokes parameters
  • 24bits HSV BMP representation of the dual-polarimetric data based on the Stokes parameters
  • New Polarimetric Parameters
    • Conformity Coefficient (M.L. Truong Loi)
    • Differential Reflectivity (ZDR)
    • Polarimetric Reflectivity Ratio
    • Scattering Predominance (J. Praks & E. Colin)
    • Degree of Purity (J. Praks & E. Colin)
    • Scattering Diversity (J. Praks & E. Colin)
    • Depolarisation Index (J. Praks & E. Colin)
    • Entropy approximation (J. Praks & E. Colin)
    • Alpha approximation (J. Praks & E. Colin)
    • Scattering Mechanism Entropy (A. Freeman)
    • Kozlov Anisotropy coefficient
  • Faraday Rotation Estimation
  • M. Neumann 2-components decomposition
  • R. Touzi - TSVM decomposition
  • J.J. VanZyl 3-model based components decomposition (published in 2008)
  • Unsupervised fuzzy neural segmentation (S.E. Park)
  • Algorithms for topography extraction from PolSAR data
  • Surface parameter data inversion: Oh 2004 Mode


  • Calibrator assessment
  • Calibration procedures (Quegan, Papathanassiou, Ainsworth)

Pol-InSAR Data Processing

  • Sinclair (S2) Master / Slave elements processing
  • Pol-InSAR speckle filter
  • Complex Coherences:
    • Estimation
    • Representation (magnitude, interferogram)
  • Height Estimation-Inversion Procedures
    • Phase Centre Height
    • DEM Differencing Algorithm
    • Coherence Amplitude Inversion
    • Ground Phase Estimation
    • Phase and Coherence Estimation - RVOG Algorithm
  • Unsupervised Pol-InSAR segmentation

  • Polarization Coherence Tomography (PCT) - Very innovative Radar imaging technique, proposed by Prof. S.R. Cloude, which employs variation of the interferometric coherence with polarization to reconstruct a vertical profile function in penetrable volume scattering

  • Pol-InSAR Coherence Optimisation Methods - New approaches, proposed by M. Lavalle are implemnted: Singular Value Decomposition (SVD), Phase Diversity (Tabb), Numerical Radius (E. Colin), Min/Max of Phase / Magnitude over Coherence Boundary and Max Phase / Max Difference over Coherence Boundary

  • Baseline Calculator Tool available only for ALOS Products delivered by JAXA - (M. Lavalle)
    • Estimation of the horizontal, vertical, parallel and perpendicular baselines from the state vectors
    • Coarse Co-Registration of the [S2] SLC PolSAR images
    • Generation and estimation of the Flat Earth map
    • Generation and estimation of the Vertical Wavenumber (kz)

Data Simulation

  • PolSARproSim - A fully polarimetric-interferometric coherent SAR scattering and imaging simulator on forest developed by M. Williams
  • From the PolSARproSim simulator providing simulated Pol-InSAR test data on forests, two new simulators on real environments are proposed:
    • PolSARproSIMgr - For Pol-InSAR ground surface simulation
    • PolSARproSIMgv - For Pol-InSAR ground + small vegetation simulation


  • Batch Processing: from Data Conversion (S3 to T3) to Wishart H / A / alpha classification
  • Raw Binary Data file: rotate ± 90°, 180°, flip ud/lr, transpose, sub data extraction, IEEE format convert
  • Complex raw binary data FFT
  • Export to ENVI
  • BMP Processing:
    • Create BMP files from binary data (modulus, phase, real part, imaginary part) with different colourmaps (grey, jet, hsv)
    • Create colour-coded RGB or HSI files (3 input channels), Pauli/Sinclair combinations
  • Integral image viewer with zoom, colour dropper, colour palette editor, rotate ± 90°, 180°, flip ud/lr, transpose functions and export to GIF, JPEG, PS and TIFF

  • My function (integration of user-defined tools)

  • Write ENVI Headers for PolSARpro Classification bin files incorporating the colour tables used to generate the BMP files - (Courtesy of Dr. Joseph Buckley from Royal Military College of Canada - Kingston - Canada)

Interface with External Software

The PolSARpro v5.0 software can offer the possibility to interface with the following external softwares:

  • G.I.M.P (Gnu Image Manipulation Program): This open source software, under GNU License, can handle and display several BMP images at the same time, thus allowing a better comparison between them

  • ImageMagick: This open source software is used to create animated gif files.

  • Google Earth: Different functionalities are also provide that offer to the user the possibility to visualize on Google Earth the SAR Image Track (Read / Create / Open a GEARTH_POLY file), or overlay and display on Google Earth the PolSARpro output BMP images (Create / Open a KML file)

  • S.R.T.M (Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission): This functionality offers to the user to download from two given ftp sites, the SRTM GeoTIFF file and display and overlay on Google Earth the extracted DEM image corresponding to the SAR image under process

  • ASTER (Global Digital Elevation Model - JAXA): This functionality offers to the user to download from two given ftp sites, the SRTM GeoTIFF file and display and overlay on Google Earth the extracted DEM image corresponding to the SAR image under process

  • ESA Sentinel-1 Toolbox: A link has been implemented in the PolSARpro v5.0 software to launch directly the ESA Sentinel-1 Toolbox, thus proposing to the user all the functionalities offered by the toolbox.