Sunset from orbit

Remote Sensing Lab

The Remote Sensing Laboratory is located in the Department of Earth and Environmental Studies (EAES). Research activities in the lab are sponsored by NASA. Current projects to use data from NASA’s Earth Observing System satellite instruments to map forest and shrubs in desert grasslands in the southwestern US and in Arctic tundra.

Previous projects sought to exploit data from the Compact High Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (CHRIS) flown on the Proba satellite (sponsored by the European Space Agency).

A research focus is the use of data from the unique NASA/JPL Multiangle Imaging Spectro-Radiometer (MISR), including cutting-edge work on mapping canopy height as well as crown cover; and mapping woody plant cover and community type in desert grasslands and Arctic tundra.

The Lab’s members have included faculty, post-doctoral research associates, and graduate and undergraduate students.

Relevant courses include

  • EAES 311 Fundamentals of Remote Sensing of the Environment (undergraduate)
  • EAES 511 Fundamentals of Remote Sensing of the Environment (graduate)
  • EAES 611 Advanced Environmental Remote Sensing and Image Processing (graduate)
  • EAES 210 Introduction to GIS and Remote Sensing (2 hours lecture, 2 hours lab )
  • EAES 310 Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (3 hours lab)
  • EAES 410 Advanced Topics in GIScience (3 hours lecture)
  • EAES 610 Spatial Analysis
  • EAES 710 Advanced Geographic Information Systems
  • Graduate Certificate Program in Geographic Information Science
  • Independent Study at various levels.


Click to zoom:

heights graph

Purple line: MISR/SGM forest canopy height (m) 
Blue line: US Forest Service Canopy Height (m)
random samples, screened for topographic shading

It’s important to note that the Forest Service and MISR/GO maps were made using completely different methods. The MISR/GO estimates of fractional woody plant cover and canopy height are not calibrated or scaled, relying only on the geometric-optical model adjusted against MISR data.