Earth Observation

Earth Observation (also known as environmental or terrestrial remote sensing) is a form of Remote Sensing, commonly defined as the science of the derivation of information about the Earth’s system through the analysis of data acquired by a measurement device without making physical contact with the object. Suitable recording platforms range from satellites to aircraft and ground-based systems, depending on spatio-temporal scales and geophysical parameters of interest. They include floating buoys for monitoring temperature and salinity of the ocean, ground stations for measuring atmosphere-biosphere interactions, terrestrial radar interferometry for monitoring unstable slopes and over 60 Earth Observation satellites that scan the Earth from space .

Overview of Earth Observation
An overview of Earth Observation platforms and scale-specific phenomenons captured by their sensors(courtesy of the National Science Foundation, modified from Nicolle Rager Fuller, 2009)


Object information is acquired through propagated reflected, scattered or emitted electromagnetic signals (e.g. optical, acoustical, or microwave). Depending on the platform, the recorded data will be transferred to a ground station (e.g. for satellite platforms) and/or delivered to data processing, data archive and data distribution centers. Finally, all types of users can obtain information about the data content and data availability as well as have the opportunity to order the data they need for specific applications.

Overview of Earth Observation
Overview of Earth Observation