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From USGS: "What is remote sensing and what is it used for?
Remote sensing is the process of detecting and monitoring the physical characteristics of an area by measuring its reflected and emitted radiation at a distance from the targeted area. Special cameras collect remotely sensed images of the Earth, which help researchers "sense" things about the Earth. Some examples are:
Cameras on satellites and airplanes take images of large areas on the Earth's surface, allowing us to see much more than we can standing on the ground.
Sonar systems on ships can be used to create images of the ocean floor without needing to travel to the bottom of the ocean.
Cameras on satellites can be used to make images of temperature changes in the oceans."
U.S. Geological Survey. The National Land Imagery Image Gallery allows users to see how the surface of the Earth is changing rapidly, at local, regional, national, even global scales, with significant repercussions for people, the economy, and the environment.
"Photographs and other images of the Earth taken from the air and from space show a great deal about the planet's landforms, vegetation, and resources. Aerial and satellite images, known as remotely sensed images, permit accurate mapping of land cover and make landscape features understandable on regional, continental, and even global scales. Transient phenomena, such as seasonal vegetation vigor and contaminant discharges, can be studied by comparing images acquired at different times."
Aerial Photography has many practical applications: