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History of remote sensing

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  • 1. HISTORY OF REMOTE SENSING 1 History of Remote SensingRemote sensing has been with us for longer than you may think. In the1600s, Galileo used optical enhancements to survey celestial bodies. (Healso used his optical equipment to observe merchant ships arriving inharbor, capitalizing on this information to modify his investment strategiesto anticipate changes in the rapidly fluctuating prices of the local commoditymarkets.) The balloonist G. Tournachon (alias Nadar) made photographs of Parisfrom his balloon in 1858. Messenger pigeons, kites, rockets and unmanned balloonswere also used for early images. With the exception of balloons, these first, individualimages were not particularly useful for map making or for scientific purposes. Similartechnologies were used for the next four years by the Union forces in theUSA civil war, also with unsatisfactory results.In the 1880s, Arthur Batut in Labruguiere, France affixed cameras to kites.His apparatus included an altimeter which encoded the altitude onto the filmso the scale of his images could be determined. The camera shutter wastriggered by a slow burning fuse, and his mechanism released a red flagwhen the shutter had been tripped. For all this, Batut is considered thefather of kite aerial photography, a technique that persists in modern times.Photographs documenting Arthur Batuts kite, style sense, and imagery ofLabruguiere. MICHAEL HEMBROM
  • 2. HISTORY OF REMOTE SENSING 2By 1903, camera miniaturization had become so advanced the camerascould be attached to pigeons. The most famous avian photographers werethe Bavarian Pigeon Corps. The cameras had a mass of 70 gm (2.5 oz), andtook photographs every 30 seconds. While their images (that sometimesincluded wingtips in the frame) were of limited use, the birds looked great inuniforms.What you get when you put cameras on pigeons. Note the wingtips in thetop photograph!Military applications of remote sensing continued during WWI, and WWII.Remote sensing changed the course of world history when, during the 1962 MICHAEL HEMBROM
  • 3. HISTORY OF REMOTE SENSING 3Cuban missile crisis, U-2 spycraft detected the installation of intermediaterange nuclear missiles in Cuba.In 1956-1958, W.M. Stinton discovered absorption features in his spectra ofMars that appeared to be consistent with chlorophyll. This was an interestingapplication of vegetation remote sensing. However, these observations werelater explained as resulting from an absorption band due to deuteratedwater.In 1972, the satellite Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS-1) waslaunched. Subsequently renamed Landsat, this was the first of the highlysuccessful Landsat series of remote sensing platforms, Landsat 7: launchedApril 15, 1999, still functioning, but with faulty scan line corrector. the most recentRBSP (Radiation Belt Storm Probes) Mission, part of NASA launched in 2012-08-30. RBSP B will measure particles, including the full spectrum of energies from cold,dense plasma to very high energy protons, plus characterize the electricand magnetic fields around the Earth. Many other remote sensing devices withvegetation monitoring emphases have been flown, including SystemeProbatorie de la Observation de la Terre series (SPOT, 1986, France),European Radar Satellite (1991), IKONOS (privately owned, 1991),OrbView-2 satellite (1997), and additional remote sensing devices have beentaken into space as payload missions on the U.S. Space Shuttle.Current remote sensing data are obtained from satellites, high flying aircraft,and low flying aircraft. Each mode of platform transport has its advantagesand its disadvantages. MICHAEL HEMBROM