[MUSCATE] Theia releases Sentinel-2 L2A products on the whole Maghreb coastal region

The blue tiles were just added to the zones where Theia provides level 2A products with MAJA.


Since we understood the bugs which were slowing MUSCATE, and we found ways to mitigate them, the production rhythm of MUSCATE improved and we were able to extend the zones where we provide Sentinel-2 (A&B) L2A products. L2A products provide surface reflectances after correction of atmospheric effects and with a high quality cloud mask. The products we deliver are provided by MAJA processor.


We just released all the data acquired on the Maghreb coastal zone, from Morocco to Tunisia. A few missing tiles have also been added in South Morocco, and on Cap Bon in Tunisia. With these new tiles, we now monitor all the lands that surround the occidental part of Mediterranean sea, adding 50 tiles to those already processed.

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[MUSCATE news] Distribution server in maintenance

New update: Muscate distribution server is back but you should use the following address until Monday: https://theia.cnes.fr/atdistrib/rocket/#/home . New products will be uploaded starting from Monday too. And since the week-end is there, it is not compulsary to downloard our L2A images until then (even if you can...)

Update : the server will also be down of Friday . Sorry for that

In order to solve the issue described in this post, MUSCATE distribution server is in maintenance. The distribution of new products should resume  tomorrow (Wednesday) or Thursday. Meanwhile, the production is going on. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Le serveur de distribution de MUSCATE est en maintenance pour résoudre le problème décrit dans cet article. La distribution de nouveaux produits devrait reprendre demain (mercredi) ou jeudi. Pendant les travaux, la production continue. Veuillez nous excuser pour ces perturbations.

Improvements of MAJA cloud masks in production

We are continuously working on improving the Sentinel-2 L2A products delivered by Theia. Since the 2nd of February, a new parametrization was put in production in order to improve two points of the cloud masks. There is a page which summarizes the variations of Theia product versions. Because of some error within Muscate production centre, we are not able to change the product version when we change a parameter. You have to look at the production date to know which version was used. This inconvenience will be corrected soon.

Clouds above water

Although MAJA is optimized for cloud detection and atmospheric correction over land, it is important to detect clouds well over water. For instance to detect the shadows of these clouds that are cast over land. But until now, the clouds mask was missing quite a lot of clouds over water. This was not a surprise as we had passed only a few hours determining the thresholds to apply. We recently found some more time to obtain a better tuning of the detection thresholds above water.

Thresholds in the SWIR have been halved (from 0.08 to 0.04), in the absence of sunglint. When sunglint is likely, due to the geometry of acquisition, the threshold is still higher (0.016, but it was 0.25 before).This means that when the sunglint flag is raised, the accuracy of cloud detection is reduced.

Impact of new cloud detection threshold over water : left, old threshold, right, new threshold.

Cloud dilation





The plane contrail illustrates the difference in observation angles of the spectral bands of Sentinel-2. The cumulus clouds above has the same effect, although lower because the cloud is at a lower altitude.

As it may be seen on the image above, the cloud limits are fuzzy, and except for the big and nice cumulus clouds, the pixel next to the cloud mask is also affected by clouds. Even if the cloud has sharp limits, it also changes the illumination of neighbouring pixels, and, in the case of Sentinel-2, as all the bands do not observe exactly in the same direction, there is a "parallax effect" which results in different cloud positions depending on the spectral band. For all these reasons, we need to dilate the cloud mask (by the way, this is an identified drawback of Sen2cor, which does not dilates its clouds).


Our dilation buffer was originally 480m. Following complaints from some users working in very cloudy countries, we had reduced the buffer to 240m in may 2017. But we recently figured out that the reduced dilation was degrading our estimates of  aerosols, as undetected clouds are considered as aerosols.  Due to this, the new version which runs since the2nd of February has once again a dilation of 480m.

Left, aerosol validation results with a dilation of 240m, right with a dilation of 480m. The new result brings a significant improvement (Merci à Bastien Rouquié pour ce résultat)


La neige de Pyeongchang

Connaissiez-vous ce dicton coréen "On n'est jamais trop prudent" ?


Voici une série d'images Sentinel-2 près du site olympique de Pyeongchang. On voit de la neige artificielle apparaître dès le mois de novembre !


neige Pyeongchang


Les images suivantes montrent qu'au cours du mois de janvier de la neige naturelle a finalement recouvert le site...

Users of THEIA Sentinel2 products are welcome in Toulouse, 13-14th June 2018

This is Toulouse in mid-June last year. Isn't that a nice place and time to gather the users of Sentinel-2 products delivered by Theia ?

CNES and THEIA are very happy to invite you to provide your feedback on the Sentinel-2 products we have been delivering for more than one year, thanks to the MUSCATE ground segment and the MAJA processor.


All users of MACCS/MAJA procesor and of THEIA products are welcome to tell us their findings, suggestions, and share experiences on methods, applications, and results.  We will also provide an update  about the processing perspectives, validation results, description of new versions, and you will have the opportunity to influence us on the related choices.


Please register and send your abstract to the workshop site. Here are the important dates to remember :

  • abstract submission deadline : March the 8th.
  • registration deadline : June the 3rd (we only have 100 seats, so please register quickly)
  • workshop dates 13-14th June 2018



The operational production of the Theia Snow collection has started

Great news, we can announce that the operational production of the Theia snow collection has started well. It means that maps of the snow cover area are now constantly added to the Theia portal. These maps are automatically generated from Sentinel-2 observations and have a spatial resolution of 20 m. The Snow collection will progressively cover most mountain regions in west Europe, but also the Atlas in Morocco, eastern Canada... The Snow collection can be freely downloaded from http://theia.cnes.fr by any registered user.

Today's front page of the Theia website featured this nice example in Sierra de Ancares (western end of the Cantabrian Mountains, Spain). In the southeast, snow was also detected on the Montes Aquilanos, including the small ski resort El Morredero. The image was captured yesterday! It illustrates well the value of multispectral imagery to discriminate the snow cover from the clouds. There is a cloud which looks alike snow but it is actually a valley fog confined by local topography.

Theia Sentinel-2 level 2A and snow product in the region de los Ancares, Spain. Image captured by Sentinel-2A on 30 Jan 2018.

Theia Sentinel-2 level 2A and snow product in the region de los Ancares, Spain. Image captured by Sentinel-2A on 30 Jan 2018.

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[MUSCATE News] Production still on, but distribution stalled again

Update January 31st, 10h00 : Distribution was just restarted, a few hundreds of images will be added today, and meanwhile, data are processed in Near Real Time.

This January was a nightmare for MUSCATE. Following database issues to send data to the distribution server, our production system was stopped during the Christmas break and unstable the weeks after.


After understanding the issues, the MUSCATE team stopped the automatic sending of products, resumed the production, and started to update the production server manually. We were nearly back on track last Thursday, when the distribution server refuse to accept any new product. The explanation was found, a directory in the High Performance Storage System (a robot that handles tapes and disks) had 65535 files and could not accept a new one.  We need a little reorganisation of the folder structure to overcome that, and meanwhile, the distribution is stalled again.


Still, more than 60 000 L2A products are now available, and we have started distributing the snow cover products, in NRTWD  ("Near real time with delay"). We hope to be soon really in NRT.

From Multitemp blog to Nature Geoscience

You probably remember Simon Gascoin's story about the Aru glacier avalanches, which started from Simon's observations of the twin avalanches using the Sentinels. It was one of the big buzz pages of the blog in 2016. The first images were published here, then spread out in many scientific websites and the social networks.


The same mountain valley in Tibet is shown before and after part of a glacier sheared off on 17 July 2016. Credit: NASA/Joshua Stevens/USGS/ESA

It seems that the story finally made its way to Nature Geoscience, after a large work from many scientists lead by Andreas Kaab.  Congratulations to all the team !


So, dear CESBIO colleagues, or remote sensing time series users, it is time to submit your work to this blog as a first step to future publications in Nature ;) !