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Introduction to Remote Sensing


Credit Hours:


Learning Objective:

To provide students an overview of the key elements of Earth remote sensing systems, including instruments, satellite (and to a lesser degree, airborne) platforms, data processing and orbit/mission design. Introduction to the important principles needed to design EO satellite systems, where "system" includes the instrument(s), satellite platform, orbit selection, data reduction and calibration/validation.


This course will introduce students to key aspects of the design of satellite systems for Earth observation (EO). We will start by identifying the physical quantities that need to be measured in order to understand changes in the Earth's atmosphere, land surfaces and oceans. These parameters will be compared with the various phenomenologies that enable them to be measured remotely from space. Next, we will look at the design of instruments and satellite systems around these principles. Microwave instruments will be emphasized, although there will also be discussion of optical systems. This course is intended equally for students in Engineering or the Sciences. Sp2016 Syllabus (Same for SP2018)

Topics Covered:

Science Requirements; Measurement Phenomenology; Instrument Design; Orbit Selection and Mission Design; Platform Design (satellite bus, launch vehicle, etc.); Retrieval, Model Inversion; Calibration/Validation; Cost and "non-technical" issues.


Graduate Student in Engineering or Science. AAE301, ECE01 or equivalent (linear signals and systems). AAE203 or equivalent (classical mechanics), or permission of instructor.

Applied / Theory:

70 / 30

Web Address:

Web Content:

Syllabus, grades, notes and handouts, homework, chatroom, WebEx, and message board.


Approximately five (5) homeworks will be assigned. Will generally place emphasis on more "real-world" problems vs. "text book" examples, and involve some amount of computer programming. Homework accepted through Blackboard.


Project is required. The project will consist of a thorough literature review. Possible topics include: development of a specific remote sensing instrument, theory of a remote sensing technique, a specific application of remote sensing, a scientific question being studied by remote sensing, or remote sensing satellite mission, either in development or currently operational. A written report in the format of an archival journal article is required.


No Exams.


Official textbook information is now listed in the Schedule of Classes.
Tentative: Required Text--Physical Principles of Remote Sensing (Topics in Remote Sensing), W.G. Rees, 2nd edition ISBN: 9780521660341.Hardcover, softcover and Kindle versions available -- all are the same.

Computer Requirements:

MATLAB, or similar computational language. Word processor with scientific/technical writing functionality (e.g., equations, tables, bibliographic citations, etc).

Other Requirements:

MATLAB or similar computational language

ProEd Minimum Requirements: