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Introduction

Welcome to the first lesson of the MOOC4Land Core MOOC. In this first series of topics, you will learn about the fundamental principles that are inheritent to every remotely sensed observation. Why do objects interact with sunlight? What do we image with our sensors? Which physical processes impact earth observation? These and many other questions that are crucial to understand the way land areas are mapping using the means of remote sensing and will be answered throughout this first learning session.


What is remote sensing?

Remote sensing describes the process of monitoring the Earth’s surface or its surrounding atmosphere through measurements taken from drones, airplanes or satellites. By analyzing the reflected or emitted energy (or radiation) science can use remote sensing instruments to characterize land areas. Depending on the application is aiming for, remote sensing sensors collect data covering different part of the light (electromegnetic) spectrum at varying spatial resolution. You will learn more about these subjects in upcoming topics.


A historic excourse


Concepts of remote sensing

Remote sensing (RS) in includes techniques and methods to observe the Earth’s surface, usually by the formation of an image in a position − stationary or mobile − at a distance remote from that surface (after Buiten & Clevers, 1993). In RS, electromagnetic (EM) radiation coming from an object is being measured. In the measurement phase the following components are relevant:

(a) source of EM radiation;
(b) path through the atmosphere;
(c) interaction with an object;
(d) recording of radiation by sensor.

The second phase includes
(e) transmission, reception & (pre-)processing of the recorded radiation;
(f) interpretation & analysis of RS data;
(g) creation of a final product.