Whither Satellite Remote Sensing—II—

by Kneeland A. Godfrey, Jr., (M.ASCE), Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1980, Vol. 50, Issue 4, Pg. 63-65

Document Type: Feature article


For about six years, NASA SERTS (now called Landsat) satellites have been circling the globe, radioing back digital information on what they see on earth. After being massaged by computer, that data is made available to the public in either of two forms: (1)photographs of the earth (each image covering 100x100 nautical miles and recorded as a 2-¼×2¼in. film image); and (2)as digital data which the user can use in any of several ways (show on a CRT or TV screen; combine with other types of geo information in digital form and show on a CRT; etc.). Such digital data can also be used to computer-generate numerical data on aerial extent of various kinds of land cover (forest, water bodies, grassland, etc.). Because data sent back to earth is sensed by the spacecraft sensors on four wavelengths, each of which senses different things about living and inanimate objects on earth, a surprising amount of information on the earth and its biota can be obtained. The article briefly describes applications in several fields including: nationwide dam inventory; forest management; scheduling irrigation water application; flood plain mapping; predicting crop yields; and mapping land cover. Future earth-resources satellites, and views on the future of application of satellite remote sensing data, are discussed.

Subject Headings: Satellites | Computing in civil engineering | Imaging techniques | Forests | Mapping | Federal government | Public information programs | Numerical methods

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