Discover and visualize altimetry data across the globe

Known Issues & Updates

Check this page to read about currently known issues with OpenAltimetry (OA). If you discover an issue that is not listed on this page, please let us know at The OA team is working towards resolving these issues in future updates to the tool.

General issues

  • Performance issues: In the original OA application (available prior to October 2023) all data was stored local to the application, making the OA application highly performant, but this also meant that the data wouldn’t always be as ‘fresh’. In moving OpenAltimetry to the cloud at NASA, there was a requirement to use source data whenever possible. So, while we still store some high-level information about the data in OA, most requests for data go to an external system (OPeNDAP) for necessary transformations and then to the source data in the cloud. This jump to an external system has caused some performance issues with OA, where loading of indicator dots or the rendering of plots can take longer than expected or desired. We have worked with multiple teams and have determined where improvements can be made. Fixes for improvements to performance should be available in the next 3-6 weeks.
  • Bookmarks for the old https site don't work: The project team created a redirect from the previous version of OA at Note that if you use an 's' at the end of the http, it will not redirect you to the new website. This is a known issue and is being resolved. In the meantime, we recommend you update your bookmarks to the new website url: 
  • Annotations: you can create a new annotation, but other annotations from the previous version of OpenAltimetry have not been added to this version of OpenAltimetry yet. Historical annotations will be added in a future release.

ICESat issues

  • Viewing waveforms: When selecting 'View Track Data'  a new browser window will open with color-coded data acquisition dots along the track you selected. You will also see dots for other tracks nearby. You will be able to see track elevation plots for any area selected, however the track name in the plot dialog window will be of the starting track. Also, you will only be able to view waveforms for data along the starting selected track. If you're having trouble viewing waveforms, make sure the dots in the area you selected are all on the initially selected track. To get waveforms for other areas, you will need to go back to the main map and select a different starting track. This is a known issue and will be fixed in a future release.

ICESat-2 issues

  • UTC timestamp: The timestamp for date modified on data downloads is UTC. This is a known issue and will be fixed in a future release.
  • Map view anomalies for ATL10: When viewing ATL10 data in the map view of OpenAltimetry, indicator dots may appear in some areas where data does not exist in the HDF5 file. OpenAltimetry is seeing fill values for the data and displaying indicator dots when none should display. These fill values may also cause elevation plots to not load so that page appears blank. This will be fixed in a future release.
  • 3D viewer: When viewing elevation plots or photon plots, the option to launch the 3D view has been removed until that functionality can be updated.

Version history

  • Version 3.2 was released on December 6, 2023: Included a fix so users can download HDF5 files in multiple web browsers.
  • Version 3.0 released on November 9, 2023: Introduced ICESat surface elevation data visualization capabilities.
  • Version 2.0 released on October 5, 2023: Introduced ICESat-2 version 6 data that are stored in and accessed from NASA Earthdata Cloud.