Geo 171: Remote Sensing of the Earth and Planets

MWF @1-2 pm in LF 209

Labs in McMillian 105: Tu, Th 2:30 - 4 pm reserved

Prof. Carle M. Pieters (office LF 201)



Course Content:

The structure of Geo 171, Remote Sensing of the Earth and Planets, consists of lectures and class discussion, laboratory exercises, independent projects, a quiz, and a final exam. Each is discussed below. See attached schedule for important dates when each item requiring written or oral responses is DUE.

Topics include: a) physical principals involved in remote sensing techniques, b) interaction of electromagnetic radiation with matter, c) science objectives and instrumentation of several current missions, d) approaches to remote geochemical analysis, including both elemental abundances and mineralogy, e) multi-spectral imagery and spectroscopy, f) physical causes of diagnostic absorptions (electronic transitions, molecular vibrations), g) analytical approaches to remote sensing, and h) current application examples.



I Spectral character of vegetation/soils: Intro to spectroscopy via MINI PS II

II. Intro to image processing: Scattered light example using MSS Moses Rock data

III. Linking imagery with spectroscopy: Landsat TM of RI

IV. Multi-spectral analysis: Low resolution Clementine data of the Moon

V. Image processing and calibration issues: Clementine data

VI. Image analysis approaches: Spectral Mixture Analysis

VII. Hyperspectral data: AVIRIS data of Moses Rock


Geo 171 Schedule of Topics

Sept 8 Introduction, Reflectance; character of veg/soil, Lab I out

13 digital detectors, eye, film, Landsat MSS, TM

20 Lab II out, Image processing; scattering

27 Reflection, Fresnel's equations, Beers law, Intro to mineral spectra; Lab III out.

Oct 4 Clementine mission, lunar science; Lab IV out

11 Holiday, lab exercises

18 Intro to Crystal Field Theory; TOPIC due; Lab V out

25 Spectral properties of minerals, Particle size, temperature

Nov 1 Space weathering, asteroids, NEAR

8 OUTLINE Due, empirical and analytical approaches; Mixing; Lab VI out

15 Quiz, Elemental abundances; gamma-ray spectroscopy, neutron spectroscopy, X-ray....

22 Elemental abundances cont.; Thanksgiving Holiday

29 Lab VII out; Mid-infrared properties of minerals

Dec 6 Radar; Independent Project Reports

Dec 15 FINAL EXAM 9 am



Independent Project Options (see attached discussion)

> Research project using available remote sensing data or spectrometers

> Proposal to use remote sensing data for specific geologic or regional problem

> Review of a remote sensing topic not covered in detail in class


Grade: 40 % Labs 15 % Quiz

20 % Project 15 % Final

10 % Class participation


Geo 171 Independent Project Topic

Each student will be responsible for a small independent research or review topic in an area in remote sensing that is of personal interest. Early in the course each student should identify a topic to be pursued as independent study. Students are encouraged to use this as an opportunity to explore a specific application of remote sensing in a field related to their concentration in the earth and planetary sciences. The purpose of this assignment is to allow each student to become more knowledgeable with at least one area of remote sensing and to recognize the scope of planning required to implement a research project using remotely acquired data. Each student will make an oral presentation to the class on their topic and will prepare a written document summarizing their project.

The independent Project can take three forms: a research project, a research proposal, or a literature review and assessment:

I. A research project can be formulated using available remote sensing data (Clementine, Galileo, etc.) or data acquired with spectrometers such as the Personal Spectrometer II ("Mini") or the NIR Field Spectrometer. An acceptable topic must include a detailed experiment plan approved by C. Pieters before beginning the experiments.

II. If the chosen option is in the form of a research proposal, a relatively narrow science problem should be defined that can be addressed with data that is or will be available from detectors on various space missions. Typically, this takes the form of identifying a particular feature or environment (on a particular planet) and proposing to acquire and analyze specific kinds of remotely acquired data to address associated science issues. The written portion would generally include:

1. Background and review of current research: a discussion of previous work on the science issue or geologic region

2. Need for further research: statement of what geologic or technical question(s) remain unsolved that can be addressed with remote observations?

3. Data requirements: detailed description of remote data required/requested to address this problem (type, extent, sensors, etc.)

4. Approach: analysis plan for the remotely acquired data (what should be done with the data once acquired?)

5. Anticipated results or applications that may arise from this analysis

III. Alternatively, a literature review can be undertaken that focuses on collecting and integrating published information about a particular research topic in remote sensing. This should include a critical assessment of the field/topic being studied.

SCHEDULE: Students are expected to search for and evaluate information from current professional journals in their field. Available resources should be examined early in the term and potential topics discussed with C. Pieters well before a topic is chosen. A written paragraph describing the nature of the topic and specific problem to be addressed is required mid-term, and a detailed outline of the project is due in November. A 15-20 minute oral presentation will be made at the end of the term followed by a written report.

Geo 171 Texts and Library Resources


Used extensively:

Remote Geochemical Analysis: Elemental and Mineralogical Composition, CM Pieters and PAJ Englert, Eds. Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp 594.


*Mineralogical Applications of Crystal Field Theory, R. G. Burns, Cambridge University Press, 1970, 224pp. QE364, B85

---- 2d Edition, 1993, 551pp. [This is THE book for spectroscopists]

*Theory of Reflectance and Emittance Spectroscopy, Hapke B., Cambridge University Press, New York, 1993, 455 pp. [The most widely used model for reflectance]

Remote Sensing, Robert A. Schowengerdt, Academic Press, San Diego, 1997, 522pp. [Excellent overview of basic image processing approaches]

*Remote Sensing Principles and Interpretation (3d Ed), Floyd F. Sabins, Jr.,W. H. Freeman and Co., New York, 1997, 494pp. [basic broad overview]

*Introduction to the Physics and Techniques of Remote Sensing, Charles Elachi, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1987, 413. [good for radar discussion]

*Infrared and Raman Spectroscopy of Lunar and Terrestrial Minerals, (C. Karr, Ed.) Academic Press, 1975, 375pp. QE369, S65, K37 [old but good examples of spectra]

General Remote Sensing Periodicals:

QE 33.2 Remote Sensing of the Environment

TA 501 Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, Journal of the American Society of Photogrammetry

G70.4 International Journal of Remote Sensing


QC 801-s 1962 --> International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment, Environmental Research Institute of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Note: Generally the BEST applications of remote sensing data are scientific discussions in professional journals of a particular field. Look in the index of journals in your field (JGR, Geology, Oceanus, Science, etc.) under keywords like remote sensing, Landsat, images, spectroscopy, satellite, imaging radar, etc.




GEO171 Schedule

FALL 1999

Sept 8




Sept 13




Sept 20

Image processing Warmup

MSS Moses Rock OUT





Sept 27


MSS Moses Rock DUE

Oct 1


Oct 4

Clem LoRes OUT





Oct 11






Oct 18



Clem LoRes DUE


Clem Full Res DP OUT


Oct 25


Nov 1


Clem Full Res DP DUE



Nov 8






Nov 15

Take home QUIZ



Nov 22



Thanksgiving HOLIDAY


Thanksgiving HOLIDAY

Nov 29


Dec 1

Hyperspectral Lab

Done in class

Dec 6



Dec 10

Written Report DUE

last class

Dec 13


Final EXAM: 9am