geospatial processing

Geospatial science studies at Virginia Tech often use Landsat data. Photo credit: Virginia Tech

Dec 21, 2014 • [Excerpted from Lynn Davis, Virginia Tech] Early iterations of geospatial technologies have been around for more than a century. The first remote sensing was from balloons in the mid-1800s, and aerial photography began in the 1930s. But the 1972 launch of Landsat 1, the first remote-sensing space satellite, followed by GPS satellites a few years later fueled the field’s spiraling growth.

“The advent of Landsat data enabled an unparalleled increase in our understanding of the Earth system,” said [Virginia Tech] Professor Randolph Wynne, a member of the national Landsat Science Team.

“One of the most important questions in land-use science is whether we can flag changes in the landscape as they occur,” said Wynne, who co-directs the Center for Environmental Applications in Remote Sensing. Whether the application is disaster management, agricultural productivity, urban expansion, or forest loss, detecting these changes is critical to Earth system processes, he added.

“Geospatial activities have always been aligned with the environment and natural resources, resulting in a uniquely powerful partnership,” Wynne said. “When you collect any field data, it is geospatially referenced, whether you are measuring the diameter of a tree or tracking endangered species.”

Further Reading:
+ Geospatial Technologies Critical to Meet Environmental Challenges, Virginia Tech