For a list of known issues with this product, see the Known Issues document under the Technical References tab.
On Wednesday, August 5th between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. (USA Mountain Time), the following data collections may not be available due to planned system maintenance: AMSR-E, Aquarius, High Mountain Asia, IceBridge, ICESat/GLAS, MEaSUREs, MODIS, NISE, SMAP, and VIIRS.
Data Set ID:

ATLAS/ICESat-2 L2A Global Geolocated Photon Data, Version 3

This data set (ATL03) contains height above the WGS 84 ellipsoid (ITRF2014 reference frame), latitude, longitude, and time for all photons downlinked by the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) instrument on board the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) observatory. The ATL03 product was designed to be a single source for all photon data and ancillary information needed by higher-level ATLAS/ICESat-2 products. As such, it also includes spacecraft and instrument parameters and ancillary data not explicitly required for ATL03.

This is the most recent version of these data.

Version Summary:

Changes for this version include:

  • Added a QA parameter that indicates the percent of reference photons within a certain distance from the reference DEM (at the geolocation segment rate). The threshold difference for each possible confidence level of reference photons is: 50 m for high confidence; 100 m for medium confidence; 200 m for low confidence; and 200 m for buffer/noise-level reference photons.
  • Fixed a logic error in the code that combines the POD and PPD degrade values. In conjunction with this fix, the definition of the podppd_flag parameter was changed to simply indicate if POD, PPD, or both report, in general, a degraded geolocation solution. The previous approach was deemed overly complex for users.
  • Effectively removed from consideration by the signal classification processing any photons from telemetry bands that do not intersect the DEM height within a +/- 30 m buffer. Additionally, photons that are poorly geolocated (as indicated by the podppd_flag) are no longer classified as potential signal.
  • Created two new parameters (/gtx/geolocation/near_sat_frac and /gtx/geolocation/full_sat_frac) that indicate nearly or fully saturated ATLAS shots. These parameters report the percentage of observed shots that are nearly or fully saturated within a geolocation segment.

COMPREHENSIVE Level of Service

Data: Data integrity and usability verified; data customization services available for select data

Documentation: Key metadata and comprehensive user guide available

User Support: Assistance with data access and usage; guidance on use of data in tools and data customization services

See All Level of Service Details

Data Format(s):
  • HDF5
Spatial Coverage:
N: 90, 
S: -90, 
E: 180, 
W: -180
Spatial Resolution:
  • 70 cm x 70 cm
Temporal Coverage:
  • 13 October 2018
Temporal Resolution91 dayMetadata XML:View Metadata Record
Data Contributor(s):Thomas Neumann, Anita Brenner, David Hancock, John Robbins, Jack Saba, Kaitlin Harbeck, Aimée Gibbons, Jeff Lee, Scott Luthcke

Geographic Coverage

Other Access Options

Other Access Options


As a condition of using these data, you must cite the use of this data set using the following citation. For more information, see our Use and Copyright Web page.

Neumann, T. A., A. Brenner, D. Hancock, J. Robbins, J. Saba, K. Harbeck, A. Gibbons, J. Lee, S. B. Luthcke, T. Rebold, et al. 2020. ATLAS/ICESat-2 L2A Global Geolocated Photon Data, Version 3. [Indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center. doi: [Date Accessed].

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How To

Programmatic Data Access Guide
Data from the NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center (NSIDC DAAC) can be accessed directly from our HTTPS file system or through our Application Programming Interface (API). Our API offers you the ability to order data using specific temporal and spatial filters... read more
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This guide will provide an overview of the altimetry measurements and data sets across the missions, as well as a guide for accessing the data through NASA Earthdata Search and programmatically using an Application Programming Interface (API). Overview  The NASA ICESat, Operation IceBridge,... read more
Explore, Access, and Customize ICESat-2 data at the NASA NSIDC DAAC
This webinar introduces the ICESat-2 mission and shows you how to explore, access and customize ICESat-2 data with the OpenAltimetry application, using NSIDC DAAC tools, and shows you how to subset, reformat and analyze the data using Python. This webinar was originally presented on July 23, 2019... read more
Search, order, and customize NSIDC DAAC data with NASA Earthdata Search
NASA Earthdata Search is a map-based interface where a user can search for Earth science data, filter results based on spatial and temporal constraints, and order data with customizations including re-formatting, re-projecting, and spatial and parameter subsetting. Thousands of Earth science data... read more
Filter and order from a data set web page
Many NSIDC data set web pages provide the ability to search and filter data with spatial and temporal contstraints using a map-based interface. This article outlines how to order NSIDC DAAC data using advanced searching and filtering.  Step 1: Go to a data set web page This article will use the... read more


What subsetting and reformatting services are available for ICESat-2 data?
The following table describes the subsetting and reformatting services that are currently available for ICESat-2 data via the NASA Earthdata Search tool, along with... read more
How do I convert an HDF5/HDF-EOS5 file into binary format?
To convert HDF5 files into binary format you will need to use the h5dump utility, which is part of the HDF5 distribution available from the HDF Group. How you install HDF5 depends on your operating system. Full instructions for installing and using h5dump on Mac/Unix and... read more