Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Remote Sensing Tutorial From NASA

Okay, I'll admit this probably sounds a little geeky, but "remote sensing" is already influencing each of our lives in some way. For that reason, it might be helpful to better understand its scope and use.

In the simplest terms, "remote sensing" refers to instrument-based data collection directed at a target area. The detection platform can be a low earth orbit satellite looking for enemy troop movements, the Hubble telescope searching for galaxies thousands of light-years away, or a Department of Energy van sitting in front of a mosque using remote sensors looking for gamma radiation inside the mosque. It can be a pigeon carrying a film camera (really!). It can be an Idaho State Police car with a trooper running RADAR or LIDAR to catch speeders.

The sensor elements are just what their name states - sensors. They "sense" something such as light, electromagetic emanations, smells, tastes, vibrations. In fact, just about any human sensory experience and some that cannot be sensed with human senses can be captured with an artificial or non-human sensor. The data from the non-human sensor can be quantified, digitized, transmitted, and reconstructed as a reasonably accurate facsimile of the original experience. In other very oversimplified words, if a human can feel, taste, smell, hear, see or otherwise perceive a physical event, so can a non-human sensor. In some instances the sensor can do it better because it can do it from a more distant location than an unaided human. And again, the non-human sensor can sense things beyond the thresholds of human sensory capabilities.

To better educate its own employees as well as us, the general public, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) asked Dr. Nick Short to prepare an interactive Remote Sensing Tutorial. Those of you who are accessing the Tutorial online using modems that operate at 56 kbps or slower should be aware that the Tutorial is designed primarily for CD and broadband (DSL, etc.) users (see What's New); therefore, those with limited download capability may find the very size of the Tutorial daunting. The tutorial is both fun and educational.


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