18 February 2011

GIS and Remote Sensing

An Introduction: Remote Sensing is the science and art of acquiring information (spectral, spatial, temporal) about material objects, area, or phenomenon, without coming into physical contact with the objects, or area, or phenomenon under investigation. Without direct contact, some means of transferring information through space must be utilised. In remote sensing, information transfer is accomplished by use of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). EMR is a form of energy that reveals its presence by the observable effects it produces when it strikes the matter. EMR is considered to span the spectrum of wavelengths from 10-10 mm to cosmic rays up to 1010 mm, the broadcast wavelengths, which extend from 0.30-15 mm.

Geographic information and imaging systems visually portray layers of information in new ways to reveal relationships, patterns, and trends. Software from vendors such as ESRI and ERDAS provides the functions and tools needed to store, analyze, and display information about places. Indiana University has higher education license agreements with both ESRI and ERDAS that provide students, faculty, and research staff from all campuses with the use of software at reduced costs.

A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing feature events on earth. GIS technology integrates common database operations, such as query and statistical analysis, with maps. GIS manages location-based information and provides tools for display and analysis of various statistics, including population characteristics, economic development opportunities, and vegetation types. GIS allows you to link databases and maps to create dynamic displays. Additionally, it provides tools to visualize, query, and overlay those databases in ways not possible with traditional spreadsheets. These abilities distinguish GIS from other information systems, and make it valuable to a wide range of public and private enterprises for explaining events, predicting outcomes, and planning strategies. For more information about GIS, see GIS.com.

Remote sensing is the art and science of making measurements of the earth using sensors on airplanes or satellites. These sensors collect data in the form of images and provide specialized capabilities for manipulating, analyzing, and visualizing those images. Remote sensed imagery is integrated within a GIS. For more information, see NASA's remote sensing tutorial.

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