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Abstract

This paper reviews the development of geologic remote sensing of the Earth and earth-like bodies from space in the 1946–1984 period. Topics include sounding rocket photography, hand-held photography from Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, and Skylab missions, the Earth Resources Experiments Package carried on Skylab, Landsats 1 through 5, the Heat Capacity Mapping Mission, Seasat, and geologic remote sensing experiments carried on two Shuttle missions. Extraterrestrial bodies discussed include the Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, and the outer planets and satellites. Data from earth-orbital experiments have been used in oil, mineral, and ground-water exploration, for research, and for geologic education, the most promising applications being in structural geology. Visual range images from Landsat have been the most widely used, but infrared data have also been used successfully for compositional mapping and as indirect indicators of structure, composition, and ground-water distribution. Orbital radar images have proved valuable for structural studies. Extraterrestrial remote sensing has in effect opened up a new solar system by providing close-range data for 17 extraterrestrial bodies previously accessible only by astronomical techniques. Remote sensing from space has been one of the most valuable and unexpected results of space flight.

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