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Remote Sensing

“What is Remote Sensing?”

Remote sensing defined: “… is the measurement or

acquisition of some property of an object or phenomenon,
by a recording device that is not in physical contact with the
object or phenomenon under study (formal definition of the
Remote sensing is both an art and a
•processing, and

images and related data that are obtained from ground-based,

air-or space-borne instruments that record the interaction
between matter (target) and electromagnetic radiation.

Remote Sensing: using electromagnetic spectrum to image

Platforms for remote sensing

• Ground
Satellite – repeat or continuous
– regional or local coverage
– example: NEXRAD for

• Aircraft
– repeat sampling , any
sampling interval
– regional or local coverage
Terrestrial – examples: airplanes for
platform photographs; LIDAR for
ozone and aerosols
Electromagnetic wave (light)

Electromagnetic radiation
is energy consisting of an
electrical (E) and magnetic
(M) fields oriented at right
angles of each other that
travels through
atmosphere at the speed
of light (c) at a certain
wavelength (λ)
The EM Range with Respect to Different
Light interaction with objects

Incident radiation that

reaches and interact with the
Earth's surface can have
any of (3) forms of
• absorption (A);
• reflection (R); and
• transmission (T).
The total incident energy will
interact with the surface with
proportions depending on the
wavelength of the energy
and the material and
condition of the feature.
Spectral signatures

The amount of energy that interacts with object varies with

wavelength, an important property that enables identification of
different substances or classes. This is called spectral signatures
(spectral curves), as shown in the figure below:
Energy Interactions with the Atmosphere

• Atmosphere affects not only the speed of

radiation, but also its wavelength, its intensity,
and its spectral distribution.
• (Electromagnetic Radiation) may also be diverted
from its original direction due to refraction.
• Interactions include:
– Refraction
– Scattering
– Absorption
– Reflectance
Processes involved: 1. Energy Source or
Illumination (A)
2. Radiation and the
A Atmosphere (B)
3. Interaction with the Target
D (C)
4. Recording of Energy by the
Sensor (D)
5. Transmission, Reception,
and Processing (E)
B 6. Interpretation and Analysis
7. Application (G)

Our eyes as remote sensors
Image Interpretation Elements

• Size of objects must be considered in the

context of image display
• Shape – refers to the general form,
configuration, or outline of individual objects
• Shadow (1) affords an impression of profile
view and (2) reflect little light on affected areas
and are difficult to discern on photographs
• Tone or (hue)– relative brightness or color of
objects on the image
• Texture – frequency of tonal change on image
• Pattern – spatial arrangement of objects
• Site – topographic or geographic location
determines cover
• Associated relationships or context –
occurrence of features in relation to others
Why then use remote sensing?

• Remote – global coverage possible

• Non-intrusive and wide coverage –
• Multiple scales – ideal for different
• Wide spectral range – visible, infrared,
thermal, microwave
• Hyperspectral – more applications
• Repetitive coverage – ideal for
environmental monitoring
Digital Image Color Composites: Combinations

RGB:321 RGB:432

The First Application of Remote Sensing
Meteorological Satellites - NOAA AVHRR

• Network of satellites
• 1.1 km spatial
• Polar-orbiting
• 5 channels (VIS~IR)
• 870 km away
• 3000 km swath width
TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission)

TRMM Characteristics
• 7 sensors onboard
•Ground horizontal resolution:4
• Swath width: 220 km
• Product: height of about 12
miles (20 kilometers).

•The Precipitation Radar will be

able to detect fairly light rain
rates down to about .027 inches
(0.7 millimeters) per hour
MODIS Sensor (payload in TERRA and AQUA

Moderate Resolution Imaging


Radiometric sensitivity: 12 bit

36 spectral bands
ranging in wavelength from 0.4 µm to
14.4 µm. The responses are custom
tailored to the individual needs of the
user community and provide
exceptionally low out-of-band
response. Two bands are imaged at a
nominal resolution of 250 m at nadir,
with five bands at 500 m, and the
remaining 29 bands at 1 km. A ±55-
degree scanning pattern at the EOS
orbit of 705 km achieves a 2,330-km
swath and provides global coverage
every one to two days

• First Unmanned Satellite

Dedicated to Multi-Spectral
Remote Sensing
• Renamed Landsat
– The RBV (Return Beam
Vidicon) consisted of
three TV-like cameras
which used color filters
to provide multispectral
• MSS (Multi-Spectral

• “7” indicates 7th launch
• Sun-synchronous
• 7 (ETM) + 1 (Pan) channels
• 30-m spatial resolution (ETM)
• 15-m spatial resolution (Pan)
• 16 day revisit period
• swath: 185 km x 185 km

San Francisco Bay,

California 2001. Image on
right shows contrast of
green vegetation, urbanized
centers (grey color) along
coastal area and the
differences in water
composition in the estuary.
Notice the prominence of
the San Andreas fault
SPOT Imagery
Colors are from the French SPOT
satellite imaging data in both visible
and infrared wavelengths collected in
February 1996. Areas of vegetation
appear red and areas without
vegetation appear light blue. River
valleys radiate out from the summit
of the volcano (upper left)

• 10 & 20 meter res. (Pan & XS resp.)
• 26 days orbit repetition (Sun-sync)
• 3 Bands (XS), 1 Band pan with
vegetation sensor
• 117 km swath width (panning possible)
• Stereoscopic data generation capability

Resolution: 4m (MS) 1 m (pan)

No of Bands: 4 (3 vis & 1 NIR
Dynamic range: 11-bit:
Orbit time: 98 m
Time pass: 1030 am
Revisit Period: 11 days minimum

Top right: This one-meter resolution image of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines was collected March 6, 2001
by Space Imaging's IKONOS satellite. The image features the volcano located 90 kilometers north of
Manila. Once standing 1,780 meters (5,840 feet), Mount Pinatubo was dormant for 600 years until 1991
when the volcano erupted twice in June of that year.
Quickbird (by Digital Globe)

• Sensor Resolution & Spectral

• Panchromatic:
– 61-centimeter GSD (Ground
Sample Distance)at nadir
– Black &White:450 to 900
• Multispectral:
– 2.44-meter GSD at nadir
– Blue: 450 to 520 nanometers
– Green: 520 to 600 nanometers
– Red: 630 to 690 nanometers
– Near-IR: 760 to 900 nanometers
• Revisit period: 1- 3.5 days
Spy satellites

• A spy satellite
(officially referred to
as a reconnaissance
satellite) is an Earth
observation satellite
deployed for military
or intelligence
Radar – Radio Detection and Ranging

• Radars operate both as

transmitters and receivers:-
– they transmit energy towards
the Earth’s surface
– they receive only what is
scattered back towards the
– (Note that in other contexts,
you can have transmitters
and receivers in different
– they calculate distances by
timing how long this takes
Banda Aceh Detail Before Debris
Banda Aceh Debris Detail
Banda Aceh Shore (Before Tsunami)
Imagery collected June 23, 2004
Banda Aceh Shore
Imagery acquired December 28, 2004
During and post-
Tsunami images of
Sri Lanka beach
2004 Global Temperature Anomalies
Monthly Mean Global Vegetation Index 2004
ALOS PALSAR over Southern Leyte

Observed: Feb. 24, 2006

Radar Imagery of Mt Pinatubo and Vicinity
ALOS PALSAR: Landslide monitoring
ALOS PALSAR: Oil Spill Detection
ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and
Reflectance Radiometer)

ASTER sensor onboard Terra

Satellite (above)
• 15 m resolution, (1st 3 bands)
• 30 m resolution, (mid 6 bands)
• 90 m resolution, (last
• 15 bands (VIS~TIR)
• 60 km x 60 km swath
• Selective acquisition (on request)

Top-right: Two half scenes covering the Laguna de Bay and vicinity taken
January 3, 2001. Lake waters exhibit high turbidity during the dry season
Landcover classification Level 1: Example

23 Feb 2002
Landsat-7 ETM+

+ dam
Landcover classification Level 1: Example

23 Feb 2002
Landsat-7 ETM+
Classification of Shallow Seafloor

Ikonos Multispectral Classification Image

Remote Sensing in the Philippines

• Still mainly based on aerial photography (black and white

mostly used)
• No systematic data acquisition program
– Dependent on mapping projects to acquire images
• We have no ground receiving station while
– our neighbours, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand or even
Viet-nam) have
– Thailand will launch its own satellite (geostationary)
• We have local distributors for the following products
– Quickbird: GSMI
– SPOT: Certeza
– Landsat: NAMRIA
– ASTER: ?
• think that 30 years ago we were looked up to in Asia
as having the most advanced technology in the region!