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STAC Catalog Specification

This document explains the structure and content of a STAC Catalog object. A STAC Catalog object represents a logical group of other Catalog, Collection, and Item objects. These Items can be linked to directly from a Catalog, or the Catalog can link to other Catalogs (often called sub-catalogs) that contain links to Collections and Items. The division of sub-catalogs is up to the implementor, but is generally done to aid the ease of online browsing by people.

A Catalog object will typically be the entry point into a STAC catalog. Their purpose is discovery: to be browsed by people or be crawled by clients to build a searchable index.

Any JSON object that contains all the required fields is a valid STAC Catalog object.

The Catalog section of the Overview document provides background information on the structure of Catalogs as well as links to best practices. This specification lays out the requirements and fields to be compliant.

This Catalog specification primarily defines a structure for information to be discoverable. Any use that is publishing a set of related spatiotemporal assets is strongly recommended to also use the STAC Collection specification to provide additional information about the set of Items contained in a Catalog, in order to give contextual information to aid in discovery. STAC Collections all have the same fields as STAC Catalogs, but with different allowed values for type and stac_extensions.

Catalog fields

Element Type Description
type string REQUIRED. Set to Catalog if this Catalog only implements the Catalog spec.
stac_version string REQUIRED. The STAC version the Catalog implements.
stac_extensions [string] A list of extension identifiers the Catalog implements.
id string REQUIRED. Identifier for the Catalog.
title string A short descriptive one-line title for the Catalog.
description string REQUIRED. Detailed multi-line description to fully explain the Catalog. CommonMark 0.29 syntax MAY be used for rich text representation.
links [Link Object] REQUIRED. A list of references to other documents.

Additional Field Information


In general, STAC versions can be mixed, but please keep the recommended best practices in mind.


A list of extensions the Catalog implements. The list consists of URLs to JSON Schema files that can be used for validation. This list must only contain extensions that extend the Catalog specification itself, see the 'Scope' for each of the extensions. This must not declare the extensions that are only implemented in child Collection objects or child Item objects.

Link Object

This object describes a relationship with another entity. Data providers are advised to be liberal with links.

Field Name Type Description
href string REQUIRED. The actual link in the format of an URL. Relative and absolute links are both allowed.
rel string REQUIRED. Relationship between the current document and the linked document. See chapter "Relation types" for more information.
type string Media type of the referenced entity.
title string A human readable title to be used in rendered displays of the link.

For a full discussion of the situations where relative and absolute links are recommended see the 'Use of links' section of the STAC best practices.

Relation types

The following types are commonly used as rel types in the Link Object of a STAC Catalog:

Type Description
self STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. Absolute URL to the location that the Catalog file can be found online, if available. This is particularly useful when in a download package that includes metadata, so that the downstream user can know where the data has come from.
root STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. URL to the root STAC Catalog or Collection. Catalogs should include a link to their root, even if it's the root and points to itself.
parent URL to the parent STAC entity (Catalog or Collection). Non-root Catalogs should include a link to their parent.
child URL to a child STAC entity (Catalog or Collection).
item URL to a STAC Item.

Note: A link to at least one item or child (Catalog or Collection) is RECOMMENDED, but empty catalogs are allowed if there is an intent to populate it or its children were removed.

There are additional rel types in the Using Relation Types best practice, but as they are more typically used in Collections, as Catalogs tend to just be used to structure STAC organization, so tend to just use the ones above.

Media Types

One of the best ways to help inform web clients about the content in a link is to use a common Media Type in the type field. In STAC the type field is used in both the 'Link'' and 'Asset' Objects. It is quite useful for STAC browsers to better determine what to render and display to users searching and browsing the Catalog. Media types are often referred to by the now deprecated term "MIME types".

Media Type for STAC Catalogs

A STAC Catalog is a JSON file (RFC 8259), and thus should use the application/json as the Media Type (previously known as the MIME Type).

STAC Media Types

The following table lists the Media Types to use for STAC structures.

Media Type Description
application/geo+json A STAC Item
application/json A STAC Catalog
application/json A STAC Collection


The extensions page gives an overview about relevant extensions for STAC Catalogs.