Sure, you may know most of the ways GIS remote sensing is used in its standard element of mapping. You may have studied the various image taking processes from planes and satellites, but you might just be surprised at some of the ways remote sensing has been used and one is rather comical by today’s standards.

These applications are sure to get your creativity flowing so that you can look way, way outside the box and see the potential others miss. That’s how new technologies are developed, they start with an idea.

1. Using Light Detection And Ranging Technologies For Sensing And Mapping With True Laser Precision

Today’s LiDAR technologies would make Lewis and Clarke roll over in their graves in sheer envy of its mapping capabilities. LiDAR stands for “Light Detection And Ranging”.  Using laser beams it measures the distance to the earth’s surface from its platform.

The reason LiDAR is so great is that its density of sample points is unprecedented and it measures them with true laser accuracy. With LiDAR technology you can create light intensity models, digital surface models and digital elevation models that produce data with a relative accuracy of just 2.5cm1.

2. Using Active And Passive Sensors From Space Soil Moisture Contents Can Be Determined

If you had to pick the top 5 measurable variables that would give you the best overall picture in weather forecasting, droughts and the water cycle then soil moisture content would arguably be amongst them.

NASA is currently running a program called SMAP (soil moisture active passive) where they are using active sensors like Radarsat-2 which has a high spatial resolution but a low rate of accuracy. And Passive SMOS sensors which measure the naturally occurring microwave radiation which is the opposite having a high degree of accuracy but quite low spatial resolution.

They are working right now to attempt to combine the 2 so they can eliminate each of their weak points while combining their strong points which is kind of how any marriage should be if you want it to last.

3. Now We Can Discover Ancient Archeological Sites Like Those Of The Egyptians And Mayans

Imagine how you would feel if you discovered an ancient archeological site that had been buried for hundreds or even thousands of years, you’d be beside yourself and for good reason.

The remote sensing applications showing the greatest promise in this area use stereo and infrared imagery. While the stereo imagery shows subtle differences on the ground level that can give high level clues the infrared has longer wave lengths and can penetrate over 1 meter below the surface.

One usual tell tale sign is going to be square patterns that may be well underground or protruding through the surface. These would be indicative of building structures.

One Crazy GIS Remote Sensing Fact

During World War 2 the German military used the Bavarian Pigeon Corps to take aerial photographs  so they could spot abnormalities in the height or depth of land structures. These variances could then be determined to be tunnel mounds, supply routes or other military targets.

Thank goodness pigeons don’t ever fly the paths that you want them to when homing in on their destination or they could have generated success with the project instead of scrapping it.

GIS remote sensing technologies are an amazing field full of wondrous paths to choose from. Who knows, one day you may discover ancient ruins or maybe train pigeons to fly straight. But either way, you’ll be in an exciting GIS niche that is exploding with new ideas and technology and some of those ideas are sure to be yours.

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