Remote Sensing

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Remote Sensing

Audience #1 is a group of high school students being introduced to the term for the first time.

Have you ever seen the film Enemy of the State? How about The Bourne Identity, or any recent James Bond movie? All of these movies have something in common: they use striking graphics in the form of maps or satellite pictures – all the product of remote sensing. Remote sensing is a method by which scientists gather information about the surface of the earth from a distance. Remote Sensing can be traced back as far as the 1860s, and has since developed into the primary method of data gathering from the earth’s surface. The most important things to know about remote sensing are why it’s needed, how it works, and what it’s used for.

Humans have used maps since ancient times; they have been the tool of explorers, politicians, armies, and navigators. Throughout recorded history, we can see endless examples of maps being used to depict a part of the earth, giving people a visual illustration of their surroundings. While maps are useful in finding out where a place is, they are merely a representation. In the late 19th century, a French photographer named Felix Tournachon decided to use a recent invention, the camera, to create a new kind of map. Using a hot-air balloon, Tournachon hoisted his camera into the sky and took a photograph of the ground. What resulted was the first known remotely sensed image of the earth’s surface, a simple photograph showing a birds-eye view of the photographer’s surroundings (NASA). The advent of this new technology revolutionized not only map-making, but the way humans see the earth. Where once there were only drawings of where a place is, now it was possible to not only see where a place is,...

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...gement, carbon management, and disaster management (39).

Works Cited

NASA's Earth Observing System. Web. 14 Mar. 2010. .

This NASA website has a lot of information on the EOS, including a definition of its mission statement.

Oxford English Dictionary. OED Online. Web. 14 Mar. 2010.

Definition for Remote Sensing

Parkinson, Claire L. Earth Science Reference Handbook. Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2006. Print.

This publication is an extensive guide to NASA’s Earth science program. It includes information about satellite missions and other examples of applied remote sensing.

The Remote Sensing Tutorial. Web. 20 Mar. 2010. .

Information is given on this page about the history of remote sensing, including the first recorded incidences.
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