Topic 1c - How do you observe the Earth with satellites?

In this video, Professor Martin Wooster will guide you through some of the basic principles used to observe the Earth from space, including a brief description of electromagnetic radiation, ‘passive’ and ‘active’ remote sensing approaches, and the main types of orbit from which satellites can observe the Earth at the necessary spatial and temporal scales.

The fundamental techniques for observing the Earth using orbiting satellites are based on the principles of how electromagnetic radiation, (such as sunlight), is emitted, transmitted and absorbed, and how sensors onboard satellites can record the signatures of this electromagnetic radiation (EMR) as it leaves the top of the atmosphere.

Depending on the type of information we would like to gather, we can specifically tailor satellites, their orbits, and their ‘remote sensing’ instruments, to measure certain wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation at particular spatial scales and repetition rates.

Featured Educators

  • Professor Martin Wooster

Optional Further Reading:

View featured satellites on the satellite tracking app

Don’t forget you can download the video, transcript and take any quizzes available with the links on the right.