AST14DEM v003

ASTER Digital Elevation Model

PI: U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team


The Terra Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) Digital Elevation Model (AST14DEM) product is generated using bands 3N (nadir-viewing) and 3B (backward-viewing) of an ASTER Level 1A image acquired by the Visible and Near Infrared (VNIR) sensor. The VNIR subsystem includes two independent telescope assemblies that facilitate the generation of stereoscopic data. The band 3 stereo pair is acquired in the spectral range of 0.78 and 0.86 microns with a base-to-height ratio of 0.6 and an intersection angle of 27.7 degrees. There is a time lag of approximately one minute between the acquisition of the nadir and backward images.For a better understanding, refer to this diagram depicting the along-track imaging geometry of the ASTER VNIR nadir and backward-viewing sensors.

The accuracy of the new LP DAAC produced DEMs will meet or exceed accuracy specifications set for the ASTER relative DEMs by the Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document (ATBD). Users likely will find that the DEMs produced by the new LP DAAC system have accuracies approaching those specified in the ATBD for absolute DEMs. Validation testing has shown that DEMs produced by the new system frequently are more accurate than 25 meters root mean square error (RMSE) in xyz dimensions.

The ASTER Digital Elevation Model data product is only available through NASA’s Earthdata Search. The ASTER Order Instructions provide step-by-step directions for ordering this product.

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Improvements/Changes from Previous Versions

As of January 2021, the LP DAAC has implemented version 3.0 of the Sensor Information Laboratory Corporation ASTER DEM/Ortho (SILCAST) software, which is used to generate the Level 2 on-demand ASTER Orthorectified and Digital Elevation Model (DEM) products (AST14). The updated software provides digital elevation extraction and orthorectification from ASTER L1B input data without needing to enter ground control points or depending on external global DEMs at 30-arc-second resolution (GTOPO30). It utilizes the ephemeris and attitude data derived from both the ASTER instrument and the Terra spacecraft platform. The outputs are geoid height-corrected and waterbodies are automatically detected in this version. Users will notice differences between AST14DEM, AST14DMO, and AST14OTH products ordered before January 2021 (generated with SILCAST V1) and those generated with the updated version of the production software (version 3.0). Differences may include slight elevation changes over different surface types, including waterbodies. Differences have also been observed over cloudy portions of ASTER scenes. Additional information on SILCAST version 3.0 can be found on the SILCAST website.

Starting June 23, 2021, radiometric calibration coefficient Version 5 (RCC V5) will be applied to newly observed ASTER data and archived ASTER data products. Details regarding RCC V5 are described in the following journal article.

Tsuchida, S., Yamamoto, H., Kouyama, T., Obata, K., Sakuma, F., Tachikawa, T., Kamei, A., Arai, K., Czapla-Myers, J.S., Biggar, S.F., and Thome, K.J., 2020, Radiometric Degradation Curves for the ASTER VNIR Processing Using Vicarious and Lunar Calibrations: Remote Sensing, v. 12, no. 3, at

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Collection and Granule


Characteristic Description
CollectionTerra ASTER
File Size~12 MB
Temporal ResolutionOther
Temporal Extent2000-03-06 to Present
Spatial ExtentGlobal
Coordinate SystemUniversal Transverse Mercator (UTM)
DatumWorld Geodetic System (WGS84)
File FormatGeoTIFF
Geographic Dimensions~60 km x 60 km


Characteristic Description
Number of Science Dataset (SDS) Layers1
Columns/RowsVaries by scene x Varies by scene
Pixel Size30 m

Layers / Variables

SDS Name Description Units Data Type Fill Value No Data Value Valid Range Scale Factor
Band 1 Digital Elevation Model Meters 16-bit signed integer N/A N/A -32768 to 32768 N/A

About the image

Terra ASTER Digital Elevation Model band 1 data from the AST14DEM product over Colorado, United States on May 25, 2018.

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User Guide
Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document (ATBD)
User Handbook
ASTER Order Instructions
DEM Comparison Guide

Using the Data

Access Data


DOI: 10.5067/ASTER/AST14DEM.003