Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation

Jerry Griffith

University of Southern Mississippi
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs


This course provides a foundational introduction to the field of remote sensing. It is the first of two courses in remote sensing. This course focuses on the basics of the science behind remote sensing including the applicable physics laws, an overview of the electromagnetic spectrum, a history of remote sensing, photogrammetry, image interpretation basics, and a survey of appications of remote sensing in fields ranging from forestry, to water resources to geology to agriculture.

The second course focuses on advanced techniques in digital image processing.

Course URL:
Resource Type: Course Information
Special Interest: GIS
Grade Level: Graduate/Professional, College Upper (15-16)
Course Size:

less than 15

Course Context:

This is an upper-division course intended to provide a foundation to an introduction to remote sensing. While no official pre-requisites are required, it is assumed that students have taken several courses inthe natural or physical sciences. It is a 3-credit lecture-based course for which there is also a 2 hour 1-credit lab session. The audience is dominated by geography majors, but geology and biology majors are also common. This course is required for students who want to have an offical emphasis or certificate in geographic information techniques.

Course Goals:

- Students should be able to design a project and formulate a hypothesis using remote sensing techniques.

- Students should be able to identify the basic characteristics of satellite sensors and know what kind of applications they are useful for

- Students should understand the electomagnetic spectrum and how it applies to remote sensing

- Students should be able to calculate basic areal statistics for features of simple geometric shapes on an image given the map scale of the image or a related anciallary image

- Students should be able to interpret the basic features and characteristisc of earth surfaces (primarily land) on satellite imagery for a variety of disciplines, including geology, soils, land cover, and water resources.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

A lecture format with a detailed textbook gives students the basic foundational knowledge to achieve the goals, while 10-12 laboroatory exercises gives students hands-on experience in apllying that knowledge to real-world examples.

Skills Goals

Inaddition to the lectures and laboratory sessions, this course also provides students an intorduction to remote sensing literature, and oral and weritten communication inthe form of a poster presentation and/or a short proposal or term paper that covers an application area of remote sensing.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

To introduce students to the remote sensing literature, I have them write a series of annotated bibliographies(typically 6-8 in a semester) of an article onremote sensing. For undergraduates, I usually start them out reviwing some short articles in a non-peer-reviewed trade magazine like Earth Imaging or GeoWorld, and then later in the course they are required to use a pee-reviewed journal such as Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing or International Journal of Remote Sensing.

A poster exercise or a written proposal accompanied by a short oral presentation is also sometimes included, and gives the student an opportunity to further explore inmore depth an area of remote sensing which they choose. At our campus, we have a Writing Center and a Speaking Center, which I require them to visit inhopes of improving these skill areas.



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