Orfeo Toolbox – Satellite Remote Sensing for QGIS


Orfeo Toolbox 4.0 (OTB) is now available for QGIS on Ubuntu 13.10 and 14.04 via the UbuntuGIS Unstable repository (it was previously available for earlier versions of Ubuntu and separately MS Windows via OSGeo4W). OTB, which can be accessed via the Processing Toolbox, provides QGIS with advanced satellite remote sensing capabilities, the sophistication of which maybe best appreciated upon thumbing OTB’s rather daunting 732 page manual.

OTB is a library of image processing algorithms based on the medical image processing library ITK v4, adapted for analysis of high resolution satellite imagery. Its algorithms are tuned to cope with huge images, that normally require supercomputer facilities, by using streaming and multithreaded processing.

The OTB project was initiated the French Space Agency (CNES) in 2006 with the objective to provide a suit of opensource tools for the analysis of images produced by the Orfeo constellation of satellites; Pléiades and Cosmo-Skymed. The motto of OTB is “Orfeo Toolbox is not a Black Box”, its algorithms are openly documented and its source code can edited by end users under the GNU compatible French CeCILL opensource license agreement.

The capabilities OTB have greatly increased since its initial release 8 years ago, especially with the release of version 4.0 in Feb 2014. It can now handle the optical sensors of SPOT, QuickBird, WorldView, Landsat and Ikonos, various multispectral sensors (e.g. Hyperion) and synthetic aperture radar imagery of TerraSarX, ERS and Palasar amongst others.

OTB’s sister application Monteverdi 2 can be installed as well. Monteverdi is a GUI batch processor for OTB that allows building complex processing chains by selecting algorithms from a set of simple drop down menus. As for future developments, the following is a demo of Orfeo Toolbox 4.0 controlled via Monteverdi 2.0, it uses the forthcoming OpenGL accelerated ICE API:


Inglada, J. & Christophe, E. 2009. The Orfeo Toolbox Remote Sensing Image Processing Software. In: IGARSS (4). 733–736.

One thought on “Orfeo Toolbox – Satellite Remote Sensing for QGIS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.