- 1 Remote Sensing 2010
- 2 Image Interpretation
- 3 Satellites
- 4 Forest biome
- 5 Acronyms
- 6 Remote Sensing 2009
- 7 Resources
Remote Sensing 2010
"Participants will use remote sensing imagery, science and mathematical process skills to complete tasks related to an understanding of the causes and consequences of human interaction with forest biomes." - Remote Sensing rules 2010
Like 2009, 5 double sided sheets of paper are permitted, as well as a non-graphing calculator.
This year, the tests tend to comprise of a mix of image interpretation as well as questions regarding concepts of remote sensing and forest biome biology knowledge. Some ecology/biology background is useful. Knowledge of individual space programs and NASA satellites, in addition to the types of sensors used, is useful.
Image interpretation and analysis is a huge part of the Remote Sensing event. It involves locating, identifying or measuring certain objects in images acquired using Remote Sensing. This isn't as straightforward as it may seem. There are plenty of features that can throw you off in each image. However, some features are the same in each image as well. There will always be a "target" to look for, which will always contrast with other parts of the image- making it "distinguishable". All images in the Remote Sensing event will be in analog format- photograph form- rather than digital.
According to the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, whose tutorial you can find in the external links section, there are several things to look for to assist in image interpretation. These are tone, shape, size, pattern, texture, shadow, and association.
- Tone is the brightness or color of an object. It's the main way to distinguish targets from backgrounds.
- Shape is the shape of an object. Note that a straight-edged shape is usually man-made, such as agricultural or urban structures. Irregular-edged shapes are usually formed naturally.
- Size, relative or absolute, can be determined by finding common objects in images, such as trees or roads.
- Pattern refers to the arrangement of objects in an image, such as the spacing between buildings in an urban setting.
- Texture is the arrangement of tone variation throughout the image.
- Shadow can help determine size and distinguish objects.
- Association refers to things that are associated with one another in photographs, which can assist interpretation, i.e. boats on a lake, etc.
Projecting color-filtered black and white images through certain filters can yield color composites. The images you'll be dealing with in this event will most likely be composites.
To begin understanding composites, we must first understand how they are made. First, work with three black and white transparencies of the same image. Each represents a different spectral band - blue, green, and red. Shine white light through each one onto a screen. Then, project each band through a filter of the same color- blue band through a blue filter, green through a green, red through a red. Because the blue images are clear on the blue spectral band image, they'll appear blue on the composite. If you line up the three images, you'll have the natural color (or very close) of the image. You've just made a color composite. This process is called "color additive viewing."
Not all composites have to have natural colors. What would happen if you projected the red band through a green filter? Or the green band through a blue filter? If you have an infrared band as one of the transparencies and shine it through the red filter, you can make something called a "False Color (IR) Composite." You may have seen false color composites in competition. Often, they are used to show healthy vegetation compared to vegetation poor in health. They may appear the same naturally, but false color displays healthy vegetation in a much brighter tone. For example, false color composites may show a football field made up of healthy grass as a strong red color, but a football field composed of Astroturf or other artificial substances will show up as a duller red.
It's important to understand what bands correspond to what wavelengths for satellites. This link: http://geo.arc.nasa.gov/sge/health/sensor/cfsensor.html, is the best source for all of the bands of the major satellites. Another link, http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/2e.html, is good for a very brief overview of the topic of remote sensing.
- True-color composite- useful for interpreting man-made objects. Simply assign the red, green, and blue bands to the respective color for the image.
- Blue-nearIR-midIR, where blue channel uses visible blue, green uses near-infrared (so vegetation stays green), and mid-infrared is shown as red. Such images allow seeing the water depth, vegetation coverage, soil moisture content, and presence of fires, all in a single image.
- NearIR is usually assigned to red on the image; thus, vegetation often appears bright red in false color images, rather than green, because healthy vegetation reflects a lot of nearIR radiation.
The Electromagnetic Spectrum
Energy can be emitted, transmitted, absorbed or reflected in waves when it hits a surface. This is important to remote sensing because that's how sensors detect certain data about the objects a satellite is studying. Active sensors emit radiation toward an object and measure its reflectance. Passive sensors simply use the energy already being radiated from objects without emitting any of their own.
It's important to know which types of energy are useful for what.
Gamma rays and x-rays cannot be used for remote sensing because they are absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere: in general, the shorter the wavelength (and the greater the frequency), the more absorption occurs.
Ultraviolet radiation is not useful either because it is blocked by the ozone layer.
Visible light allows satellites to detect colors a human eye would see. Infrared is divided into categories: near infrared, reflected infrared and thermal infrared. Near infrared is useful for vegetation, and thermal infrared is also known as heat and is emitted passively, not actively.
Microwaves are used in radar (see more in Sensors section)
During the competition, you may be asked to analyze a picture's NDVI values. NDVI stands for "Normalized Difference Vegetation Index" and is used to describe various land types, usually to determine whether or not the image contains vegetation. The equation provided by USGS for NDVI is as follows:
NDVI = (Channel 2 - Channel 1) / (Channel 2 + Channel 1)
Channel 1 is in the red light part of the electromagnetic spectrum. In this region, the chlorophyll absorbs much of the incoming sunlight. Channel 2 is in the Near Infrared part of the spectrum, where the plant's mesophyll leaf structure can cause reflectance. You may also see the equation given like so:
(Where NIR is Near Infrared and VIS is Visual (Red) Light)
So, healthy vegetation has a low red light reflectance (Channel 1) and a high infrared reflectance (Channel 2). This would produce a high NDVI value. As the amount of vegetation decreases, so too does the NDVI values. The range of NDVI values is -1 to +1.
Generally, areas rich in vegetation will have higher positive values. Soil tends to cause NDVI values somewhat lower than vegetation, small positive amounts. Bodies of water, such as lakes or oceans, will have even lower positive (or, in some cases, high negative) values.
There are some factors that may affect NDVI values. Atmospheric conditions can have an affect on NDVI, as well as the water content of soil. Clouds sometimes produce NDVI values of their own, but if they aren't thick enough to do so, they may throw off measurements considerably.
EVI, or the Enhanced Vegetation Index, was created to improve off of NDVI and eliminate some of its errors. It has an improved sensitivity to regions high in biomass and its elimination of canopy background. The equation for EVI is as follows:
Where NIR is again Near Infrared, and Red and Blue are of course those colors' bands. All three of these are at least partially atmospherically-corrected surface reflectances. The equation filters out canopy noise through L.
EVI has been adopted as a standard product for two of NASA's MODIS satellites, Terra and Aqua. As it factors out background noise, it's often considered to be more popular than NDVI.
This is a list of some useful remote sensing vocabulary: All of this can be found in the ccrs tutorial
- Absorption: when substances absorb radiation
- Active sensing: giving off radiation, then sensing the backscatter
- Electromagnetic radiation: most common energy source for remote sensing consisting of an electric and magnetic field perpendicular to each other and the direction of travel while traveling at the speed of light c (3.0 m/sec)
- Frequency: the number of waves passing a given point in a given amount of time; measured in hertz
- Image: any pictoral representing any wavelength used in sensing
- Orbit: path followed by a satellite
- Passive sensing: sensing naturally available radiation
- Radiometric resolution: ability of sensor to discriminate very small differences in energy
- Reflection: when radiation is redirected upon striking a target; this is the target interaction useful for remote sensing
- Remote sensing: the science of acquiring data without being in contact with it
- Scale: ratio of size on image to real-life size
- Scattering (or atmospheric scattering): when particles in the atmosphere redirect radiation
- Spatial resolution: smallest detail a sensor can detect
- Spectral resolution: ability of sensor to distinguish between fine wavelength intervals
- Swath: area imaged by a satellite with a fixed width
- Temporal resolution: describes the time between which the same area is viewed twice
- Transmission: when radiation passes through a target
- Wavelength: the distance between two crests of a periodic
Examples of Instruments
Know what types of instruments will be used for certain applications.
- RADAR: short for Radio Detection and Ranging. It transmits radio waves, which are scattered and reflected when they come into contact with something. They can pass through water droplets and are generally used with active remote sensing systems. Radar is good for locating objects and measuring elevation.
- LIDAR: short for Light Detection and Ranging. It is similar to RADAR but uses laser pulses instead of radio waves.
- TM: stands for Thematic Mapper. It was introduced in the Landsat program and involves seven image data bands that scan along a ground track.
- MSS: stands for Multispectral Scanner. It was introduced in the Landsat program also, and each band responds to a different type of radiation, thus the name “multispectral”.
Examples of Satellites
Most of the satellites tested for are NASA-related.
- A-Train: a satellite constellation scheduled to be with seven satellites working together in Sun synchronous (SS) orbit. Their compiled images can have high-resolution results.
- Aqua: used for monitoring the water cycle.
- Aura: measures air quality and climate.
- CloudSat: uses RADAR to monitor clouds’ altitude and properties.
- CALIPSO: measures materials within clouds
- PARASOL: a satellite which studies clouds and aerosols. It has begun to leave the A-Train.
- Landsat: A series of 7 satellites using multiple spectral bands. Only two are operational today (Landsat 7 and Landsat 5) These are generally the most commonly tested satellites, as well as those using the ASTER sensor.
- GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) System: 2 weather satellites in Geostationary orbit 36000 km
- SeaWiFS (Sea-viewing Wide-Field-of View Sensor): Eight spectral bands of very narrow wavelength ranges, monitors ocean primary production and phytoplankton processes, ocean influences on climate processes (heat storage and aerosol formation), and monitors the cycles of carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen.
The second portion of this event requires the use of knowledge of forest biomes and the interaction of humans with them.
There are three major types of forests, which are all characterized by the amounts of trees growing in them.
- Tropical forests are near the equator. They have the greatest diversity in species, and only two seasons are present (rainy and dry).
- Temperate forests are located in eastern North America, northeastern Asia, and western and central Europe. There are four defined seasons and a moderate climate. Precipitation (75-150 cm) is distributed evenly throughout the year.
- Boreal forests (taiga) are in northern Eurasia and North America. There is a short, warm summer and a very long and cold winter.
As humans have expanded their reign over the planet, the health of the forest biome has taken a hit. Effects of humans such as deforestation threaten the well-being of the planet, especially since forests play an important role in processes such as the water cycle, carbon cycle, and ecological diversity.
- ALI: Advanced Land Imager
- ASTER: Advanced Space Borne thermal Emission and Reflected Radiometer
- ATSR: Along Track Scanning Radiometer
- AVIRIS: Airborne Visual/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer
- CCD: Charge Coupled Devices
- CERES: Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System
- CIR: Colour Infrared
- CZCS: Coastal Zone Color Scanner
- EMR: ElectroMagnetic Radiation
- EMS: ElectroMagnetic Spectrum
- EOS: Earth Observing System
- FC: False Colour
- FCC: False Colour Composite
- FLIR: Forward Looking InfraRed
- GOES: Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite
- GPS: Global Positioning Satellite
- HRV: High Resolution Visible
- IFOV: Instantaneous Field of View
- IRS: Indian Remote Sensing
- LANDSAT: LAND SATellite
- LIDAR: LIght Detection And Ranging
- LISS-III: Linear Imaging Self-Scanning Sensor
- LWIR: LongWave InfraRed
- LWR: LongWave Radiation
- MESSR: Multispectral Electronic Self-Scanning Radiometer
- MISR: Multi-angle Imaging Spectro Radiometer
- MODIS: MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer
- MOS: Marine Observation Satellite
- MSR: Microwave Scanning Radiometer
- NDVI: Normalized Difference Vegetation Index
- NIR: Near InfraRed
- NOAA AVHRR: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer
- PAN: Panchromatic
- PCA: Principal Components Analysis
- RADAR: RAdio Detection And Ranging
- RAR: Real Aperture Radar
- RGB: Red, Green, Blue Colour Space
- R/S: Remote Sensing
- SAR: Synthetic Aperture Radar
- SEASAT: SEA SATellite
- SPOT: Système Pour l'Observation de la Terre
- SWIR: ShortWave-InfraRed
- TIR: Thermal Infrared
- TM: Thematic Mapper OR Thermal Mapper
- VTIR: Visible and Thermal Infrared Radiometer
- WiFS: Wide Field Sensor
More acronyms can be found in the CCRS (Canada Center for Remote Sensing) Tutorial
<spoiler text="Remote Sensing 2009">
Remote Sensing 2009
"Participants will use remote sensing imagery, science and mathematical process skills to complete tasks related to an understanding of the causes and consequences of global warming." - Remote Sensing rules 2009
You may bring five (5) pages of double-sided paper with notes in any form. Each participant may bring any non-graphing calculator.
This event is essentially a test based on identifying satellite imagery. Be prepared to study about and memorize different NASA space programs aimed at imaging earth from space. Also, learn to identify different human constructions based on satellite photos. Test questions will often be open-ended, with answers to questions based on analysis of such satellite images in visible, infrared, and radio wavelengths. Other such images include but are not limited to charts of variation in average temperature and measure of chlorophyll concentration in the ocean. </spoiler>
- Official Science Olympiad remote sensing page
- This remote sensing tutorial written by the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing is very useful. Covers basic concept of remote sensing, sensor types, image interpretation and analysis, and use of data. Section 5.3 on forests is a must.
- The NASA tutorial is more advanced than the Canada one, and it is recommended reading after the Canada one has already been read. Difficult to read both due to time constraints, however, most substance in this tutorial will not be necessary on most tests. Good if time permits.
Most of these links are either no longer active or not relevant to the 2010 event
- The official Science Olympiad website has many links, official rule clarifications, and tips on how to improve your binder.
- http://cmex.ihmc.us/CMEX/index.html OR http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov
- Mars Topographic Map, as referenced by the official rules. No longer applicable due to rule changes.
- http://pubs.usgs.gov/imap/i2782/i2782_sh1.pdf and http://pubs.usgs.gov/imap/i2782/i2782_sh2.pdf
- Direct links to the Mars Topographic Maps from pubs.usgs.gov - note they are large in file size. No longer applicable due to rule changes.
- http://www.michiganso.org/mars_remote_sensing_course.htm or http://www.michiganso.org/resources.htm
- The other link in the rules has probably moved here instead. There is a great online course dedicated to Remote Sensing and a great topographic map.
- Usually had good event resources.
- This is a good document for Remote Sensing in general, without any focus on Mars. There are two pages of links at the end for you to use.
- Feel free to ask any additional questions you might have about Remote Sensing here, as long as you follow the rules.
- New York Coaches Conference