Minimize ALOS

The Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) was a Japanese Earth-observation satellite, developed by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tokyo; formerly NASDA), launched on January 24, 2006. ALOS was developed to contribute to the fields of mapping, precise regional land coverage observation, disaster monitoring, and resource surveying. It enhances land observation technologies acquired through the development and operation of its predecessors, the Japanese Earth Resource Satellite-1 (JERS-1) and the Advanced Earth Observing Satellite (ADEOS).
The objective of the 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 are:

  • Land Use and Land Cover Research (High-resolution Digital Elevation Model, 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 of
  • 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 includes optical and an active L-band microwave sensor payload whose high-resolution data may be used for environmental and hazard monitoring.


ALOS has three remote-sensing instruments: AVNIR-2, PRISM and PALSAR.
The ALOS menu to your right provides information concerning the SPPA activities  for each of these instruments.

ALOS completed its operations on May 12, 2011 - the satellite was lost due to a power anomaly. However, ESA continues to distribute ALOS archived data to users residing in the ADEN-zone (i.e. Europe, Africa, Middle East).

Artist's conception of the ALOS spacecraft - view 1 (image credit: JAXA)

Artist's conception of the ALOS spacecraft - view 1 (image credit: JAXA)"


ALOS Characteristics

Launch Date

Jan. 24, 2006

Launch Vehicle


Launch Site

Tanegashima Space Center

Spacecraft Mass

Approx. 4 tons

Generated Power

Approx. 7 kW (at End of Life)

Design Life

3 -5 years


Sun-Synchronous Sub-Recurrent

Repeat Cycle: 46 days
Sub Cycle: 2 days

Altitude: 691.65 km (at Equator)

Inclination: 98.16 deg.

Attitude Determination Accuracy

2.0 x 10-4degree (with GCP)

Position Determination Accuracy

1m (off-line)

Data Rate

240Mbps (via Data Relay Technology Satellite)
120Mbps (Direct Transmission)

Onboard Data Recorder

Solid-state data recorder (90Gbytes)