The European Space Agency is making BEAM available free of charge to the user community


BEAM is an open-source toolbox and development platform for viewing, analysing and processing of remote sensing raster data. Originally developed to facilitate the utilisation of image data from Envisat's optical instruments, BEAM now supports a growing number of other raster data formats such as GeoTIFF and NetCDF as well as data formats of other EO sensors such as MODIS, AVHRR, AVNIR, PRISM and CHRIS/Proba. Various data and algorithms are supported by dedicated extension plug-ins.

Software Components

  • VISAT - An intuitive desktop application to be used for visualization, analyzing and processing of remote sensing raster data. To get an impression of how VISAT looks and feels like, please take a look at the related screenshots page.
  • A set of scientific tools running either from the command line or invoked by VISAT, also entirely written in Java.
  • A rich Java API for the development of new remote sensing applications and BEAM extension plug-ins.

Supported Instruments

This following table lists the data product formats which are supported by BEAM using the reader modules provided in the standard installation. Information about the access to these products is given on the data sources page.

MERIS L1b/L2EnvisatEnvisat N1
AATSR L1b/L2EnvisatEnvisat N1
ASAREnvisatEnvisat N1
ATSR L1b/L2ERSEnvisat N1, ERS
SARERSEnvisat N1
MODIS L2Aqua, TerraHDF4
MSSLandsat 1-5GeoTIFF
TMLandsat 4GeoTIFF
TMLandsat 5GeoTIFF, FAST
ETM+Landsat 7GeoTIFF

 1) In development - available in 2014

Generic EO Data Formats

BEAM supports the following generic raster formats:

BEAM-DIMAPread + writeThe standard BEAM I/O format. It comprises an XML header based on the SpotImage/CNES DIMAP schema and ENVI images for the raster data.
GeoTIFFread + writeA widely used EO data format, e.g. for Quickbird, LANDSAT, SPOT.
NetCDFread + writeA widely used EO data format. BEAM supports NetCDF files conforming to the NetCDF CF Metadata Convention.
HDF-EOSreadBEAM supports the HDF-EOS profile (HDF4) used by NASA Ocean Color data products of SeaWiFS, MODIS, OCTS, CZCS, and the gridded MODIS L3 products.


Feature Highlights

  • Very fast image display and navigation even of giga-pixel images
  • Advanced layer management allows adding and manipulation of new overlays such as images of other bands, images from WMS servers or ESRI shapefiles
  • Rich region-of-interest definitions for statistics and various plots
  • Easy bitmask definition and overlay
  • Flexible band arithmetic using arbitrary mathematical expressions
  • Accurate reprojection and ortho-rectification to common map projections,
  • Geo-coding and rectification using ground control points
  • Store and restore the current session including all opened files, views and layers
  • A standard set of scientific data processors which includes
    • Level 3 Binning and Mosaicing (all sensors)
    • Collocation (all sensors)
    • EM and K-Means Clustering, Linear Spectral Unmixing (all sensors)
    • Radiance-to-Reflectance, Smile Effect Correction, Cloud Probability, SMAC Atmospheric Correction, Case 2 Water Constituents (MERIS)
    • Sea Surface Temperature (AATSR)
    • FLH/MCI, NDVI (all sensors)