An Annotated Guide to Earth Remote Sensing Data and Information Resources for Social Science Applications

Section 1.0

Basic Information and Documentation on Earth Remote Sensing

Suggested starting points for general readers are indicated with an asterisk.

1.1 General Overviews and Compendia

  1. * Atlas of Satellite Observations Related to Global Change. Published in 1993, this volume includes more than 25 articles on the use of satellite data and imagery to address key scientific questions concerning global environmental change. Topics covered include the Earth's radiation balance, atmosphere, oceans, land, cryosphere, and the effects of human activities. An appendix describes both existing and planned operational and research satellites for Earth observation by country. Availability: Printed volume available from Cambridge University Press (ISBN 0-521-43467-X).

  2. Earth Observations from Space: History, Promise, and Reality. The Space Studies Board of the U.S. National Research Council has prepared a detailed history of the Mission to Planet Earth Program and reviewed the overall development and organization of U.S. civil Earth observations programs. Published in 1995, the report provides useful programmatic background for understanding the current and planned suite of Earth remote sensing satellites and associated instruments. Availability: Printed version available from the Space Studies Board, National Research Council, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418. Executive Summary available online via the National Academy Press Reading Room at (search on title). A direct link to the summary is at: /records/NX006300.html

  3. Manual of Photographic Interpretation, 2nd Edition. Updated in 1997 from the original manual published in 1960, this comprehensive manual reviews the history and fundamentals of photographic interpretation; methods for recognizing and assessing landforms, soils, vegetation, hydrology, and structures and cultural features; and a range of applications including land use and land cover inventory, agriculture and forestry, wildlife and wetlands, urban planning and archaeology, military uses, and environmental monitoring. It includes two appendices that list major imagery collections and sources of aerial photographs. Availability: Printed volume available from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 5420 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 210, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-2160 (ISBN 1-57083-039-8). For additional information see

  4. Manual of Remote Sensing, 3rd Edition (a series): Earth Observing Platforms & Sensors. Now published in Windows-compatible CD-ROM format, this manual updated in 1996 provides detailed information on more than 270 satellite and airborne platforms focusing on atmospheric, geophysical, and Earth resources. The CD-ROM includes sample datasets, technical specifications of hardware, and numerous color illustrations. Availability: CD-ROM available from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 5420 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 210, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-2160. For additional information see

  5. MTPE 1999 EOS Reference Handbook. The Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) Program of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) maintains a reference handbook describing the status of the Earth Observing System (EOS). This document includes detailed information on planned EOS and related satellite missions, EOS instruments, EOS interdisciplinary science investigations, and MTPE pathfinder data sets. Availability: (**ok Bob?) Printed version available from EOS Project Science Office, Code 900, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, tel. (301) 286-3411.

  6. * Thematic Guide on the Use of Satellite Remote Sensing to Study the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change. The on-line guide developed by the Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) provides an overview of satellite remote sensing in relationship to research on human interactions with global environmental change. It includes the full text of selected documents and literature on remote sensing applications as well as other bibliographic materials and direct links. Availability:

  7. * Trends in Commercial Space-1996: Satellite Remote Sensing. This paper, prepared by the Office of Air and Space Commercialization of the U.S. Department of Commerce as part of an edited volume, provides an overview of commercial satellite remote sensing. It summarizes the Presidential Policy on Commercial Remote Sensing and lists planned worldwide commercial remote sensing capabilities. Availability:

1.2 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. A FAQ on Vegetation in Remote Sensing. This FAQ document addresses the use of remote sensing to assess vegetation characteristics. It includes details on the derivation of standard indices and a bibliography. The on-line version is dated 13 October 1994. Availability:

  2. * The Satellite Imagery FAQ. This five-part FAQ provides summary information on satellite-based imagery of the Earth. It deals with both general and technical questions and includes an extensive list of remote sensing satellites and instruments, with pointers to resources available on the Internet. The FAQ is updated approximately monthly by members of the Image Processing and Remote Sensing Listserver (IMAGRS-L). Availability: (latest version).

1.3 Glossaries

  1. CCRS Remote Sensing Glossary. This searchable database, maintained by the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, contains a comprehensive list of terms related to radar, optical, and airborne remote sensing and a dictionary of acronyms. Results may be displayed in English or French. Availability:

  2. Dictionary of Abbreviations and Acronyms in Geographic Information Systems, Cartography, and Remote Sensing. An extensive list of abbreviations and acronyms related to GIS and remote sensing (dated June 1996). Availability:

  3. Earth Observing System (EOS) Acronyms/Abbreviations. A long list of acronyms and abbreviations provided by the EOS Project Science Office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Availability: (**not there)

  4. Earth Observing System (EOS) Glossary. This is an extensive glossary of concepts and terms related to remote sensing and weather, aimed primarily at teachers and students in Grades 7-12. A short bibliography and a list of educational resources around the U.S. are also provided. Availability:

  5. Global Land Information System (GLIS) Glossary. An extensive glossary of earth science acronyms and terms is available from the U.S. Geological Survey's GLIS maintained by EROS Data Center (EDC). Availability:

  6. Glossary of Remote Sensing Terminology and Acronyms. A brief list of remote sensing terms and acronyms and associated definitions. Availability:

1.4 Tutorials and Other Educational Materials

  1. * Community Colleges for Innovative Technology Transfer, Inc. (CCITT) Project in Remote Sensing, Image Processing and Geographic Information Systems. CCITT is a consortium of U.S. community colleges affiliated with a local NASA Center. This project is developing a set of curriculum modules aimed at undergraduate courses in Earth system sciences or related disciplines. The project also offers periodic faculty workshops in remote sensing, image processing, and GIS. Availability:

  2. GLOBE Visualization Server. The Visualization server of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program provides images of global environmental data including both student measurements and reference data from the Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) and selected satellites. Availability:

  3. * NASA's Observatorium. This is a public access site for Earth and space data primarily oriented to pre-college students. It includes an image gallery and selected exhibits on topics such as ozone and the use of remote sensing in agriculture and in the Mississippi flood of 1993. Availability:

  4. * Remote Sensing Core Curriculum. Under development by a distributed team involving the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA), and the University of South Carolina, this curriculum provides an introduction to photo interpretation and photogrammetry, remote sensing of the environment, digital image processing, and remote sensing applications. It includes links to educational and on-line data resources and provides both lecture and exercise materials on topics such as population estimation, environmental warfare, flood analysis, and rangeland management. Availability: or

  5. * Remote Sensing Task Force. The Remote Sensing Task Force of the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) has developed a set of instructional materials dealing with remote sensing of the environment. Specific topics include the Persian Gulf War, the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, fires in Yellowstone National Park, and the 1993 flood around St. Louis, Missouri. The WWW site includes ordering information and samples of low- and high-resolution imagery. Availability:

  6. Remote Sensing Tutorial. This on-line tutorial under development by Goddard Space Flight Center focuses on the role of space technology in monitoring the Earth's surface and atmosphere. It is aimed at both professional audiences and the general public and includes extensive materials on remote sensing applications. Although not yet complete, more than half of the planned chapters are available and several more are apparently in progress. Availability: (**ok Bob?)

  7. Satellite Meteorology Online Remote Sensing Guide. An instructional module focusing on weather satellites, particularly Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) and Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellites (POES). Availability:

  8. Satellite Training Application. This computer-based training application, under development by the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey, California, presently includes a prototype Satellite Tutorial on interpretation of satellite imagery and training materials on the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). Additional materials are being prepared for other U.S. environmental satellites. Availability:

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Data Systems/Centers
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