Remote sensing, defined here as “all methods of recording and measuring energy which is reflected or emitted from selected segments of the electromagnetic spectrum,” has been used in natural sciences and earth resources fields for several decades. Data collection systems are highly developed, as are instruments designed to automate the analysis, enhancement, information extraction, and/or change-detection of the acquired data. When used with ancillary data (ground observations, etc.), these data are providing useful information relative to the mapping of regional structure, joint patterns, drainage patterns, fault traces, and rock types.

Remote sensing should never be considered as a panacea for studying geoscience problems, but should be treated as a developing tool which will provide additional information for a multifaceted scientific approach to studying the earth and other planets. Remotely sensed data, especially that acquired from space, provides synoptic coverage of large areas and of environmental factors, not perceived by the unaided eye or during field observation. These environmental phenomena include surface distribution of heat, moisture, snow, open water, viable vegetation, and cultural features. Synoptic images and temporal change illustrated by sequential coverage are useful for teaching, research, and exploration in geoscience. Specific examples of remote sensing applications are described, including the recognition of several previously unrecognized faults on the Appalachian Plateau.

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