18 February 2011

Satellite Remote Sensing

Satellite remote sensing involves gathering information about features on the Earth's surface from orbiting satellites. These satellites carry two types of sensor systems known as "active" and "passive". A "passive" system generally consists of an array of small sensors or detectors, which record (as digital numbers), the amount of electro-magnetic radiation reflected and/or emitted from the Earth's surface. A multispectral scanner is an example of a passive system. An "active" system propagates its own electro-magnetic radiation, and measures (as digital numbers), the intensity of the return signal. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is an example of an active system.
The digital data acquired by the satellites is transmitted to ground stations and can be used to reconstitute an image of the Earth's surface not too dissimilar to an aerial photograph.

Bands Used in Remote Sensing
Emission of EMR (Electo-Magnetic Radiation) from gases is due to atoms and molecules in the gas. Atoms consist of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by orbiting electrons, which have discrete energy states. Transition of electrons from one energy state to the other leads to emission of radiation at discrete wavelengths. The resulting spectrum is called line spectrum. Molecules possess rotational and vibrational energy states. Transition between which leads to emission of radiation in a band spectrum. The wavelengths, which are emitted by atoms/molecules, are also the ones, which are absorbed by them. Emission from solids and liquids occurs when they are heated and results in a continuous spectrum. This is called thermal emission and it is an important source of EMR from the viewpoint of remote sensing.

The Electro-Magnetic Radiation (EMR), which is reflected or emitted from an object, is the usual source of Remote Sensing data. However, any medium, such as gravity or magnetic fields, can be used in remote sensing.
Remote Sensing Technology makes use of the wide range Electro-Magnetic Spectrum (EMS) from a very short wave "Gamma Ray" to a very long "Radio Wave". Wavelength regions of electro-magnetic radiation have different names ranging from Gamma ray, X-ray, Ultraviolet (UV), Visible light, Infrared (IR) to Radio Wave, in order from the shorter wavelengths.

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