FORMOSAT-2 Satellite Sensor - Remote Sensing Tutorial
FORMOSAT-2 Satellite Sensor

The first remote sensing satellite developed by National Space Organization (NSPO), FORMOSAT-2, successfully launched on May 21, 2004 with a high resolution of 2 meter panchromatic data and 8 meter multispectral satellite image data. The main mission of FORMOSAT-2 is to conduct remote sensing imaging over Taiwan and on terrestrial and oceanic regions of the entire earth.

The images captured by FORMOSAT-2 during daytime can be used for land distribution, natural resources research, forestry, environmental protection, disaster prevention, rescue work, and other applications. When the satellite travels to the eclipsed zone, it will observe natural phenomena such as lighting in the upper atmosphere which can be used for further scientific experiments. FORMOSAT-2 carries both "remote sensing" and "scientific observation" tasks in its mission. The spacecraft is operating nominally as of 2006.

FORMOSAT-2 Satellite Sensor

Image credit: EADS Astrium SAS/ NSPO (National Space Programme Office) of Taiwan

The FORMOSAT-2's Image Processing System (IPS) is independently developed by NSPO. It is designed to process images by tasking the satellite according to the user's needs. Images are then taken and downloaded through X-band antenna, then crossed with through IPS such as radiometric and geometric corrections and stored in computers. These files will be delivered to the end users based on the clients' requests.

FORMOSAT-2 Satellite Sensor Specifications

Imaging Data Products • B&W: 2-m
• Color: 2-m (merge)
• Multispectral (R, G, B, NIR): 8-m
• Bundle (separate Pan and MS images)
Spectral Bands • P: 0.45 - 0.90 µm (Panchromatic)
• B1: 0.45 - 0.52 µm (Blue)
• B2: 0.52 - 0.60 µm (Green)
• B3: 0.63 - 0.69 µm (Red)
• B4: 0.76 - 0.90 µm (Near-infrared)
Sensor Footprint 24 km x 24 km
Revisit Interval Daily
Viewing Angles Cross-track and along-track (forward/aft): +/- 45°
Satellite Tasking Yes - Panchromatic and multispectral images can be acquired at the same time
Image Dynamics 8 bits/pixel
Image File Size
(level 1A without metadata)
• MS: 35 Mb
• Pan: 137 Mb

FORMOSAT-2 products are available in 3 preprocessing levels:

  • Level 1A
    Radiometric corrections to remove distortions due to variations in sensitivity of elementary detectors in the imaging sensor.
  • Level 2A
    Radiometric corrections identical to Level 1A. Geometric corrections to frame the image in a given map projection (default projection is UTM WGS 84).
  • Ortho
    Radiometric corrections identical to Level 1A. Geometric corrections to frame the image in a map projection specified by the user and to remove relief distortions (map and/or control points and digital elevation model supplied by user).


Products are delivered in DIMAP format:

  • Image in GeoTiff
  • Metadata in XML


  • Posted online (FTP) within 48 - 72 working hours of acquisition
  • CD-ROM/DVD if requested

FORMOSAT-2 Mapping Applications

FORMOSAT-2 satellite images support monitoring and detecting land change for any specific region for various industries and mapping applications. Users can task the satellite to keep track by scheduling revisits to detect changes on land and infrastructures, to observe movement overtime and helps to keep a current database to know what is happening on the ground so users can make informed decisions.