As soon as humans could be carried off the ground with hot air balloons, people began taking pictures from this wondrous vantage point (see MIT summary of views of aerial photography). In the late 1950s we moved into the Space Age and cameras and sensors we put onboard. This satellite data, processed through computers, changed our understanding of Earth and its many intertwined processes.
A great deal of satellite data is available for free over the Internet, so use the Investigations that follow to learn how to manipulate the data to study areas that interest you most, including your neighborhood!
Background of Remote Sensing
For interactive, on-line remote sensing activities that uses the free Multispec software, see Indiana State University's Exploring Light Energy Interactions with Earth Features (Grades 7-12).
See also: NASA's Images of Change iPad application. This can be used as a basis for a simple student investigation. NASA RELEASE 13-356: Human activities, a
changing climate and natural disasters are rapidly altering the face of
our planet. sers
can get an interactive before-and-after view of these changes. ...Some
... have suffered a disaster, such as a fire or tsunami, or illustrate
the effects of human activities, such as dam building or urban growth.
Others document impacts of climate change such as persistent drought and
rapidly receding glaciers. "Images of Change" gives users an
astronaut's or Earth explorer's view of the changes occurring on our
planet and demonstrates the important role NASA plays in contributing to
the long-term understanding of Earth," said John Grunsfeld, NASA's
associate administrator for science in Washington. ...Viewers can look
at the images side-by-side or overlay them using a slider bar to travel
from past to present. ...The Images of Change iPad app is available as a
free download at: http://go.nasa.gov/1bE3osn [through] http://climate.nasa.gov.... http://www.nasa.gov/press/2013/december/nasa-ipad-application-shows-earth-changing-before-your-eyes-0.
Aerial photograph from about 600 meters
(0.6 km) over Cape Cod, MA.
Photo taken by John Pickle.
Aerial photograph of Boston, MA
taken from 8 km.
Landsat image of Boston, MA
taken from 920 km.