Remote sensing technology allows us to acquire information at a distance. Most commonly, we use it to study other planets. However, it has applications down here on Earth, too. We use it as a source to gather information within the atmosphere and in outer space. Improvements to remote sensing technology have vastly expanded their applications as well. Here are a couple of ways it has improved in recent years.
1. Improved Electromagnetic Instrumentation
Electromagnetic radiation covers everything from visible light to gamma rays. Years ago, we couldn’t detect anything out of the visible spectrum. However, we’re able to collect data from across the whole spectrum today.
One example of how this is being used today would be Lidar. What is lidar, though? Lidar is a type of radio sensing technology. Radio waves reflect off surfaces at particular angles. By detecting these angles, we can extrapolate from our data. There are also two different forms of lidar, terrestrial focuses on objects, and airborne focuses on the ability to see over land and into bodies of water. This improvement in technology now gives automated cars the ability to detect what’s in front of them. It’s also capable of detecting things hidden behind objects, too.
2. Enhanced Passive and Active Sensors
New sensors have enhanced our ability to collect data from the EM spectrum. Today, we group them into two different classes. There are active sensors and passive sensors.
Active sensors use their own power sources. So, they will send out waves of EM energy. Then, they will measure how they interact with the environment. We can use these sensors to detect how tall a forest has grown. Or, we can look at the development of storms on the horizon.
Passive sensors collect EM radiation from other sources. We can use them to see how the sun is acting. And, we can use them to measure how much radiation a star emits. Using both types of sensors in combination opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
3. Higher Resolution Data
The higher the resolution of your data, the more information you’ll glean from it. Back in the day, we only had so much resolution available. We are now able to learn more than we have ever before without physically being close to our planets. Technology limited how much information we could collect from any source. However, we’ve expanded how much data we may collect by improving our technology.
We can classify resolution into three different categories. Temporal resolution refers to data collected over time. New technologies can run a lot longer without any assistance. That’s improved our temporal resolution tremendously.
Spatial resolution refers to how much data we can collect over a given space. Improving spatial resolution lets us know more about a particular area. We could only collect so many data points from a particular area in the past. But, we’re able to collect more than ten times as much from that same area now.
Radiometric resolution refers to how much data is in each pixel. By improving this, we’ve been able to distinguish subtler differences in energy levels. Thanks to this, we’re able to see minute differences in temperature levels. Studying things like the ocean’s temperature has improved as a result.
4. AI-Assisted Data Processing
Nothing has made a bigger difference from artificial intelligence to data processing. Even the best sensors can only tell us so much about something. Processing the data collected by sensors is where we’ve progressed the most. Now, humans don’t have to handle the data much at all. Instead, sensors feed data directly to AI systems. Then, they’ll process the data far faster than a human brain would have been able to.
5. Lower-Cost Manufacturing Methods
There have been major advances in our technology. But, nothing has opened the remote sensing field more than low-cost manufacturing methods. Creating remote sensing technology used to cost a fortune. So, only a few institutions could make use of it. Now, even small enterprises can afford some high-quality gear. With so many new findings it became easier for other companies to find their way into the field. As a result, remote sensing technology has become much more widely available. We are able to create the technology faster. And, it’s gotten a lot more affordable.
How Remote Sensing Technology Has Improved
Remote sensing technology has become something used by most industries. Automotive engineers have implemented it in self-driving cars. Plus, you will find remote sensing technology at weather stations around the world. Even astronauts make use of it every day. Innovations in AI have been improving data streams and knowledge with information we can only gain through remote sensing technology. Most of its spread is thanks to improvements in technology where w are able to collect data more efficiently, and it doesn’t cost nearly as much.