Images provide one of the most important ways we have of understanding the world around us. Our eyes supply us with an almost continuous stream of full-color images with non-stop action. But there is an infinite number of images of the world we cannot see directly because of the limited sensitivity of our eyes and the difficulty of leaving our normal environment on the surface of Earth. So we build instruments that can detect what ours eyes cannot and send them to places that are hard to reach, and program them to return the images they detect back to us. The art and science of gathering and interpreting those images and other information about objects from a distance is called remote sensing.
Remotely sensed images recorded by instruments aboard aircrafts, manned spacecrafts, and satellites already provide us with many different types of information about our Earth. The montage of images on this page shows a sampling of different remotely sensed images centered on New York City on the East Coast of North America. Perhaps the most familiar type of remotely sensed image is the GOES weather satellite image. In order of increasing detail or resolution, there is also a visible-light DMSP night view of the lights of New York and nearby cities, a Landsat mosaic of the New York region, an NDVI image of the New York region, a color photograph of New York City taken from the space shuttle, and a SIR-C radar image of downtown New York City also taken from the space shuttle.
L I N K S. To learn more about remote sensing, follow the links below. Some lead to tutorials, and some lead to remotely-sensed data sets.
NASA's Observatorium Education Resources: http://observe.ivv.nasa.gov/nasa/education/reference/main.html
The Remote Sensing Tutorial at the Goddard Space Flight Center: http://rst.gsfc.nasa.gov/TofC/Coverpage.html
Planetary Imagery Sites at the Lunar & Planetary Insitutute: http://cass.jsc.nasa.gov/library/LISTS/img_file.html
Imaging Radar Home page: http://southport.jpl.nasa.gov/education/classroom/