Bright Spark Ku SAR Data Pushes the Envelope


Ultra-high resolution Coherent Change Detection SAR image from the Thales BRIGHT SPARK Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensor. The inset shows two sheep, and their tracks in a field. BRIGHT SPARK
is a Dstl Experimental SAR system designed, built and operated by THALES UK. It is a Ka-band sensor providing unprecedented resolution and was used as a technical demonstration of the ‘art of the possible’.

Bright Spark SAR Data

Bright Spark imagery comes from a very high fidelity SAR system. This page will provide you with all the infromation that you need to get your hands on some of the data.

What Bright Spark Data is available?

The data is currently held at two seperate levels. Accessible on here immediately are the images in bitmap format. See below. Also available are the Complex SAR images for each of the collections on this page, together with the associated KML File. These are available on request by following the instructions below.

It is hoped that at some point in the future there will be funding available to convert each of the datasets into a Common Phase History Data (CPHD) format which comprises all the raw pulse data used to form each of the images. (This is pretty unprecendented and only for those hardcore physicist and engineers who want to get ‘under the hood’ with SAR processing and operations). Fingers crossed.

How do I get hold of the data?

The detected images in bitmap format can be obtained below. In addition the complex imagery is being made available to universities and scientific bodies for use in their research. If you want the complex image data or a link to all the images then send me an email and I’ll reply by sending you a link to the folder. The link will expire after three days. You need to include the following information:

  • Your email address (this is where the link will be sent to)
  • Your Name
  • Your Affiliation (University or Scientific body)
  • Your address (kept for our records as we are interested to see where the data ends up)
  • What you intend to use the data for (because we are nosy)

By clicking the button below you are acknowledging the rights of Dstl and Thales and agree to credit these two organisations in any subsequent publications or use of the data.

What licencing restrictions are there?

The data provided on this website is freely available to the public with the complex data being available, upon request, for use by universities or scientific bodies. It was paid for by the UK Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory as an experiment with the amazing engineering and technology delivered by Thales UK.

All that we ask is that you credit Thales,UK and [Dstl] in any publications or media that you use the imagery for. Here is a suggestion :

Bright Spark imagery courtesy of Thales,UK and Dstl.

Here are a couple of logos if you want to include them:

dstl_sm.png thales_sm.png

Are there other resources available?

There are two additional collection activities made with Bright Spark which have not yet made it through the processing system (its a matter of priorities on my time). If there is interest in this data then the additional datasets will be made available sooner.

We are also planning to release data from an experimental low frequency SAR system called Bright Sapphire II, built and flown by Airbus, UK. More on this in the future.

Can I collect my own data?

This is something that we hope people will want to do. If the data is useful for UK defence research then there may be the possibility of burden sharing the trial (lower cost to you). If this is something tha you are interested in then drop me an email with as much information as you can.

Can I contribute ? / How Can I help ?

There are a few ways that you can help. First by letting us know if the data is useful for you. If you write a paper or a report using the data and you are able to share it with us then we would love to put it in the articles area. Or you could just send a reference and I’ll make sure its captured and your name put up in lights.

Images in Bitmap Format

Each of the images below are thumbnails. You can click on them to access the full frame bitmap (detected) images. Be warned though they are quite large- each image is 33653814 bytes (33MBytes)


About Author

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) or SAR Journal is an industry trade journal which tracks the worldwide SAR industry. We offer news, education, and insights to the SAR industry. We are operated, moderated and maintained by members of the SAR community.This profile is run by multiple moderators who all represent the If you would like to submit news or have questions about a post please email us here: and someone will get back to you.