Installation of the latest stable version is always done using:

$>  pip install pyspectral

Some static data are part of the package. Downloading of this data is handled automagically by the software when data are needed. However, the data can also be downloaded manually once and for all by calling dedicated download scripts. The latter is helpful when running PySpectral in an operational environment. See further below on how the static data downloads are handled.

You can also choose to download the PySpectral source code from github:

$> git clone git://

and then run:

$> python install

or, if you want to hack the package:

$> python develop

Static data

PySpectral make use of and requires the access to two different kinds of static ancillary data sets. First, relative spectral responses for a large number of satellite imaging sensors are available in a unified hdf5 format. Secondly, PySpectral comes with a set of Look-Up-Tables (LUTs) for the atmospheric correction in the short wave spectral range.

Both these datasets downloads automagically from when needed.

On default these static data will reside in the platform specific standard destination for storing user data, via the use of the appdirs package. On Linux this will be under ~/.local/share/pyspectral. See further down.

The spectral response data

PySpectral reads relative spectral response functions for various satellite sensors. The original agency specific spectral response data are stored in various different formats (e.g. ascii, excel, or netCDF), with varying levels of detailed information available, and usually not following any agreed international standard.

These data are often available at the satellite agencies responsible for the instrument in question. That is for example EUMETSAT, NOAA, NASA, JMA and CMA. The Global Space-based Inter-Calibration System (GSICS) Coordination Center (GCC) holds a place with links to several relevant instrument response data. But far from all data are available through that web-site.

Therefore, in order to make life easier for the PySpectral user we have defined one common internal HDF5 format. That way it is also easy to add support for new instruments. Currently the relative spectral responses for the following sensors are included:

  • Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20 VIIRS
  • All of the NOAA/TIROS-N and Metop AVHRRs
  • Terra/Aqua MODIS
  • Meteosat 8-11 SEVIRI
  • Sentinel-3A/3B SLSTR and OLCI
  • Envisat AATSR
  • GOES-16/17 ABI
  • Himawari-8/9 AHI
  • Sentinel-2 A&B MSI
  • Landsat-8 OLI
  • Geo-Kompsat-2A / AMI
  • Fengyun-4A / AGRI

The data are automagically downloaded and installed when needed. But if you need to specifically retrieve the data independently the data are available from the pyspectral rsr repository and can be downloaded using a script that comes with PySpectral. For instance, to download the data into the default directory:

python ~/.local/bin/

Instead if you want to download the data to a specific directory and using verbose mode (to get some log information on the screen):

python ~/.local/bin/ -v -o /tmp

It is still also possible to download the original spectral responses from the various satellite operators instead and generate the internal HDF5 formatted files yourself. However, this should normally never be needed. (For SEVIRI on Meteosat download the data from eumetsat and unzip the Excel file.)

Look-Up-Tables for atmospheric correction in the SW spectral range

Look-Up-Tables (LUTs) with simulated black surface top of atmosphere reflectances over the 400-600 nm wavelength spectrum for various aerosol distributions and a set of standard atmospheres for varying sun-satellite viewing are available in HDF5 on The LUTs are downloaded automagically when needed and placed in the same directory structure as the spectral response data (see above). The data can also be downloaded manually using a dedicated download script. To download all LUTs you can do like this:

python ~/.local/bin//

If you only need LUTs for a few aerosol distributions, for example desert aerosols and marine clean aerosols (and using verbose mode to get some log info on the screen):

python ~/.local/bin// -a desert_aerosol marine_clean_aerosol -v

Configuration file

A default configuration file pyspectral.yaml is installed automatically and being part of the package under the etc directory. In many cases the default settings will allow one to do all what is needed. However, it can easily be overwritten by making your own copy and set an environment variable pointing to this configuration file, as e.g.:

$> PSP_CONFIG_FILE=/home/a000680/pyspectral.yaml; export PSP_CONFIG_FILE

So, in case you want to download the internal PySpectral formatted relative spectral responses as well as the atmospheric correction LUTs once and for all, and keep them somewhere else. Change the configuration in pyspectral.yaml so it looks something like this:

rsr_dir = /path/to/internal/rsr_data
rayleigh_dir = /path/to/rayleigh/correction/luts
download_from_internet = True

Then download the data:

python ~/.local/bin/
python ~/.local/bin//

And then adjust the pyspectral.yaml so data downloading will not be attempted anymore:

rsr_dir = /path/to/internal/rsr_data
rayleigh_dir = /path/to/rayleigh/correction/luts
download_from_internet = False