Remote Sensing, only Less Remote


Imagine we could see the world, from anywhere. Remote sensing, made possible by a vast and expanding network of  satellites, has opened the world up to, well, the rest of the world! Here I detail two such facilities now freely available, making the world of remote sensing much more accessible.

Firstly, a magnificent website developed by the NASA Jet Propulsion laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, Eyes On The Earth, provides us with an overview of the various remote sensing satellites NASA operate. The site visualises the track of each satellite, in addition to an option of viewing its orbit in 3D from different viewing perspectives, all with the click of a mouse. Furthermore, the location of each satellite can be seen at different speeds; even in real time. And if you wish to compare the size of a satellite to a bus, well, there’s an option for that too.

Additionally, Eyes on the Earth provides us with basic information on the three main types of observation missions of the Earth: atmospheric, oceanic and land surveying, with associated information on key data. The data captured by some satellites can also be overlaid onto the Earth (through the option “Show data map”). The website also includes links to educational activities and games about climate change, making what is a complex and expensive process accessible to people of all ages.

Secondly, the NASA Earth Observatory provides beautiful and intricate images of the earth daily, and are freely available for download. The Observatory also includes a section on global maps, including downloadable animations of global data (see this one on global aerosol concentrations for example) and a rather funky Features section spanning all the way back to 1998.

Who says rocket science isn’t accessible!

Authored by: Alex Rodriguez Cobano, former postdoctoral researcher, TCD Geography


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