Some of the variables essential for understanding and monitoring the Earth can be efficiently observed from space. Satellites enables the monitoring of several phenomena and their interactions providing multiple data sets for modelers and researchers.
Earth observation from space has expanded our environmental analysis capabilities allowing us to observe phenomena that are not directly accessible to human experience. The information obtained from satellite data are powerful tools to increase our understanding on how a range of our planet features have changed on a variety of scales and how they will change. Data are used to “...give us a sense of what’s happening on our planet” (Credit: NASA, To get a sense please visit http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/).
For our purpose we define Earth observation as the acquisition, processing, and analysis of data about our planet made by artificial satellites. An artificial satellite is an object orbiting the Earth used to investigate and monitor a range of parameters. This technique is called remote sensing.
The world’s first artificial satellite was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957. It was about 58 cm in diameter, and transmitted morse code signal.
“...the advent of satellite observations has revolutionized the Earth research endeavor, and highlights examples of how such observations have led to new discoveries, opened new avenues of research, and provided important societal benefits by improving the predictability of Earth system processes” (2007, “Earth Observation from Space”, The National Academy of Sciences).
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