Data and formats around a globe. Credit: metamorworks

Sentinel data formats


Data and formats around a globe. Credit: metamorworks
Data and formats around a globe. Credit: metamorworks

Sentinel data products are distributed using a Sentinel-specific variation of the Standard Archive Format for Europe (SAFE) format specification.

Last Updated

16 February 2023

Published on

26 May 2020

All the information relevant to the product is gathered into a single package. Inside this package, the specific objects containing measurement data are encoded in netCDF format.

Naming convention: The prefix of the product name is the concatenated product type code, e.g., 'SR_2_WAT', and timeliness code, e.g., 'NRT'. Details of the codes can be found in the relevant user handbooks.

SENTINEL-SAFE is designed to manage any kind of data and data can be contained in a single file or in multiple files.

Using the SENTINEL-SAFE format, information can be categorised in two main categories:

  1. Data: the information contained in the product which causes the existence of the product itself
  2. Metadata: stored information which is not data.

A SENTINEL-SAFE format product contains the following components:

  • Manifest file: an XML document conforming to the XFDU manifest file specifications. It contains the definition of the information package map, wrapped metadata objects, wrapped data objects and references to the files containing the metadata and data objects.
  • Binary or XML files: the data or metadata object contents. Currently, in the SAFE core specifications, only two types of files have been identified, i.e. binary matching MIME octet stream definition and XML documents.
  • XML schema files: the representation information of the data held by a SAFE format product. To represent the binary information, the SAFE format also defines specific mark-ups to annotate XML schema documents, providing information on the physical structure (SDF mark-ups).

The size of a SAFE product will depend on the type of measurements it contains. Most of the different products derived from the Sentinel instrument platforms, will contain multiple files (containing different measurements/derived products), or data at different resolutions. These can be ordered/delivered together ('all') or separately.