Remote Sensing in a Nutshell

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), remote sensing is a science that obtains information regarding objects or areas from a distance,  typically using aircraft or satellites to take radar or infrared photography. In 1972, a joint initiative between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA launched the first earth resource satellite (Landsat-1). The Landsat Project is the world’s longest continuously acquired collection of space-based moderate-resolution, land remote sensing data.  The remote sensing data collected has been used by agriculture, commercial, education,  emergency response geology, government, forestry, industry, and military and many other communities.

According to the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS), satellite observation has several advantages. It allows users to observe a broad area for a long period, including change detection and invisible information on the electromagnetic spectrum without visiting the area.
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The Wright Brothers and Remote Sensing

Today in history, most people celebrate the invention of the airplane. Along with asking the popular question – Did the Wright Brothers invent anything else?  On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers were the first to fly a controllable self-propelled airplane. However, geospatial professionals also celebrate the Wright Brothers contribution to the field of remote sensing.

wrightbrothers.info
wrightbrothers.info

 

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GIS DAY 15th Anniversary: Take the way back machine

Take the way back machine to the first GIS Day in Spring of 1999. ESRI ARC News Online announced GIS Day 1999 Slated for November!  According to the press release, ESRI told users to “Get ready to learn more about GIS and geography. The National Geographic Society, the Association of American Geographers (AAG), and Esri are announcing the first annual GIS Day to be held November 19, 1999–the Friday of Geography Awareness Week (November 14-20, 1999)”.  According to Jack Dangermond, “The idea behind GIS Day is to create a single, worldwide event that effectively communicates the benefits and significance of GIS to the rest of society. There are about half a million GIS users in the world, but most of the public is unaware of this growing technology.”  It is difficult to comprehend that in the span of a little more than short years since that inaugural GIS Day, the world has experienced what Penn State calls the geospatial revolution significantly impacting the number of GIS users worldwide. Continue reading “GIS DAY 15th Anniversary: Take the way back machine”

DigitalGlobe introduces PERSPECTIVES Magazine

DigitalGlobe, a commercial high-resolution earth imagery company, launched its aptly named e-magazine, PERSPECTIVES,  today. The trade magazine provides 52 pages of stunning imagery and detailed information on the satellite imagery and remote sensing industry. Although it focuses on DigitalGlobe technologies, the magazine provides insight into a broad swath of topic areas from mineral exploration to infrastructure to penguin migration.  PERSPECTIVES will provide articles, case studies, and technical papers in their upcoming issues.

 

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NASA, Big Data, and a Real World Jigsaw Puzzle

NASA has posted two news items that illustrate the large amounts of data that they are generating. NASA| The Data Downpour is a  video describing how the GPM constellation turns observed radiances and reflectivities of global precipitation – falling snow and rain – into data products.  They detail this huge task in “GPM Mission’s How-to Guide for Making Global Rain Maps“. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight CenterPrecipitation Processing System (Greenbelt, Maryland)  is tasked with compiling remote sensing data from NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.  The  data set will eventually become one unified global data set.  A simplified version of a very exacting process, as any geospatial professional will tell you. Continue reading “NASA, Big Data, and a Real World Jigsaw Puzzle”

Cornell Lab of Ornithology YardMap beta

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has introduced some very exciting backyard citizen science applications that utilize remote sensing data. One of them is The YardMap citizen science project funded by the National Science Foundation Information Education Program  or advancing informal STEM Learning (AISL), as it is known now. YardMap is designed to cultivate a richer understanding of bird habitat, for both professional scientists and people concerned with their local environments. It is also a great way to make your yard bird friendly.  So far they have had 8098 YardMaps drawn using the YardMap Tool.

 

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Remote Sensing, 1961 and today

Today, NASA, geospatial scientists, and people from around the world celebrate the first time that we saw Earth, in a now familiar view, from space. Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., the first American in space, took the famous photo from the Freedom 7 Mercury capsule on May 5, 1961.  The Space Fellowship website and community discuss “The Pioneering Mercury Astronauts Launched America’s Future” . The Kennedy Space Center Historical Archive of Manned Space Flights gives a detailed mission objective for the Freedom 7  from May 5th. If you want to relive the moment, Extreme Tech provides a live video feed of Earth from Space, as part of the  High Definition Earth Viewing experiment.

The Federation of American Scientists has an information rich remote sensing tutorial that states, “Before entering this Overview, ponder this slogan: REMOTE SENSING is the BACKBONE of the SPACE PROGRAM”.   The backbone of modern remote sensing might well be education, innovation, and experimentation – Alan B. Shepard said that , “The first plane ride was in a homemade glider my buddy and I built. Unfortunately we didn’t get more than four feet off the ground, because it crashed.”   Educators, citizen scientists, and hobbyists of all types are creating hands-on remote sensing and unmanned vehicle education that will inspire the next generation. 

Spatial Easter Egg Hunts

Easter Basket with Easter EggsLocation-based technologies are helping Easter Egg hunts go high-tech with the assistance of geospatial professionals taking their love of spatial technologies into their communities.

The funniest quote from an article in the Fairbanks News-Miner about how “To Hunt Easter Eggs the modern way, Fairbanks students grab GPS” is “When students in Kuntz’s multi-grade class raised the idea of holding an Easter egg hunt with their buddies, fourth-grader Tanja Gens volunteered her mother, Anupma Prakash, to lead it. Prakash is a professor of Remote Sensing Geology and Geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.”  The North Central Ohio Geocachers hosted a “Hunt Easter Eggs with GPS Units” event at The Crawford Park District. Danbury Park in Essex UK held a GPS Easter Egg Hunt for their Young Rangers.

Some towns are holding GPS Easter Egg Hunts for fun and to increase tourism. Many of these are more challenging than regular Easter Egg Hunts. They charge per team and require teams to bring their own handheld GPS unit. The town of Ninety Six held a GPS Easter Egg Hunt at Lake Greenwood State Park. The Vermillion River Reservation in Lorain County held one. The Northern Life Canada found that the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area combined “Easter Eggs, GPS, and Nature” into an Earth Day EGG-Stravaganza. Even REI Outdoor Outfitters held a class on Family Geocaching: Easter Egg Hunt.

Meet your Polar Vortex Meteorologist

Meteorologists made the Style section of the The Washington Post today in the article,  “What’s it like to be the voice of the Polar Vortex? These Weathermen Know”  Giving meteorologists an introduction worthy of a movie trailer, Rachel Lubitz asks, “So, what is it like to be the voice of this polar vortex, bringing the grim news about temperatures that are flirting with — and in some cases breaking — record lows?” It is a good introduction into how broadcast meteorologists approach their jobs. But what does it take to be a broadcast meteorologist? Continue reading “Meet your Polar Vortex Meteorologist”

Pins on the Map: George Washington Slept Here

As you shiver in the cold today during what The Weather Channel is predicting could be the coldest winter on record for decades in North America, reflect on the 1780 snowstorm that hit George Washington’s army at Jockey Hollow in Morristown, NJ, now a National Park that commemorates the Continental Army’s winter encampment (December 1779 – June 1780). Here the soldiers survived the tail end of what historians and paleoclimatologists dub, “the little ice age”.   Continue reading “Pins on the Map: George Washington Slept Here”