Remote Sensing

Remote Sensing refers to the process of obtaining information about a given area or object from a distance. Although nowadays this typically occurs via aircraft or satellite, remote sensing technology has evolved since its inception.

In the 1840s, cameras were suspended by tethered balloons and directed toward the Earth’s surface to gather topographic information. The technology proceeded to incorporate kites and rockets; in perhaps its most unexpected form, remote sensing was conducted by attaching small cameras to the pigeon members of the Bavarian Pigeon Corps for the collection of aerial photographs. Rather than balloons and pigeons, remote sensing technology now usually relies on manned aircraft, unmanned aerial systems, or nanosatellites. Just as conduit methods have evolved, so too have our methods of collecting information. Advanced sensors augment camera imagery and allow for a variety of applications, including monitoring oceans and coastal areas, weather data collection, hazard assessment, and vessel tracking.

Learn more

  1. Remote Sensors | Earthdata [Internet]. Accessed 3 Oct 2016.
  2. Graham S. Remote Sensing: Feature Articles. NASA Earth Observatory; 1999.
  3. US Department of Commerce; National Oceanic Administration A. What is remote sensing? 2009.