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pysat: Python Satellite Data Analysis Toolkit

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The Python Satellite Data Analysis Toolkit (pysat) is a package providing a simple and flexible interface for downloading, loading, cleaning, managing, processing, and analyzing scientific measurements. Although pysat was initially designed for in situ satellite observations, it now supports many different types of ground- and space-based measurements.

Full Documentation

JGR-Space Physics Publication

Citation Info

Main Features

  • Instrument independent analysis routines.
  • Instrument object providing an interface for downloading and analyzing a wide variety of science data sets.
    • Uses pandas or xarray for the underlying data structure; capable of handling the many forms scientific measurements take in a consistent manner.
    • Standard scientific data handling tasks (e.g., identifying, downloading, and loading files and cleaning and modifying data) are built into the Instrument object.
    • Supports metadata consistent with the netCDF CF-1.6 standard. Each variable has a name, long name, and units. Note units are informational only.
  • Simplifies data management
    • Iterator support for loading data by day/file/orbit, independent of data storage details.
    • Orbits are calculated on the fly from loaded data and span day breaks.
    • Iterate over custom seasons
  • Supports rigorous time-series calculations that require spin up/down time across day, orbit, and file breaks.
  • Includes helper functions to reduce the barrier in adding new science instruments to pysat


Starting from scratch

  • Python and associated packages for science are freely available. Convenient science python package setups are available from, Anaconda, and other locations (some platform specific). Anaconda also includes a developer environment that works well with pysat. Core science packages such as numpy, scipy, matplotlib, pandas and many others may also be installed directly via pip or your favorite package manager.

  • Installation through pip

pip install pysat
  • Installation through github
git clone
cd pysat
python install

An advantage to installing through github is access to the development branches. The latest bugfixes can be found in the develop branch. However, this branch is not stable (as the name implies). We recommend using this branch in a virtual environment or using python develop.::

git clone
cd pysat
git checkout develop
python install
  • Note that pysat requires a number of packages for the install. The upper caps for packages below have been removed for the upcoming pysat 3.0.0 release. The development version can be found in the develop-3 branch (see above for caveats).
    • beautifulsoup4
    • h5py
    • lxml
    • madrigalWeb
    • matplotlib
    • netCDF4
    • numpy (>=1.12)
    • pandas (>=0.23, <0.25)
    • PyForecastTools
    • pysatCDF
    • requests
    • scipy
    • xarray (<0.15)
  • The first time the package is run, you will need to specify a directory to store data. In python, run
pysat.utils.set_data_dir('path to top level data dir')
  • Nominal organization of data is top_dir/platform/name/tag/*/files

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