Remote Sensing

Remote sensing is defined, for our purposes, as the measurement of object properties on the earth’s surface using data acquired from aircraft and satellites. It is, therefore, an attempt to measure something at a distance, rather than in situ. Since we are not in direct contact with an object of interest, we must rely on propagated signals of some sort, for example optical, acoustical, or microwave. Remote sensing systems, particularly those deployed on satellites, provide a repetitive and consistent view of the earth that is invaluable to monitoring short-term and long-term changes and the impact of human activities.

Some of the important applications of remote-sensing technology are:

  • Environmental assessment and monitoring (urban growth, hazardous waste)
  • Global change detection and monitoring (atmosphere ozone depletion, deforestation, global warming)
  • Agriculture (crop condition, yield prediction, soil erosion)
  • Nonrenewable resource exploration (minerals, oil, natural gas)
  • Renewable natural resources (wetlands, soils, forest, oceans)
  • Meteorology (atmosphere dynamics, weather prediction)
  • Mapping (topography, land use, civil engineering)
  • Military surveillance and reconnaissance (strategic policy, tactical assessment)
  • News media (illustrations, analysis)

Abilities and properties