EE/Meteo 477

Fundamentals of Remote Sensing Systems

11:15-12:05 MWF on Zoom 

Topics: This course introduces methods for determining various characteristics of a distant volume/target. The course will primarily focus on electromagnetic techniques, emphasizing radio frequency (e.g. radar, microwave radiometry) and optical (e.g. lidar, imaging, spectroscopic, etc.) methods. Additional topics, such as acoustic probing, will be included depending on student interests and time constraints. Applications will address environmental as well as industrial monitoring, target ranging/ID, etc. The course will also include numerous associated topics, like environmental composition/structure, radiative transfer, data/error analysis, orbital mechanics, and safety concerns. 

Prof. Tim Kane, 3-8727,  213 EEE 
Office Hours: TBA (or by appointment) 

Prerequisites: Introductory electromagnetics and/or radiative transfer or instructor’s consent

Physical Principles of Remote Sensing, 3rd Edition by W.G. Rees. ( (on Reserve in Engineering Library

plus additional reading material posted on CANVAS

Additional Reading[1] 

  • Remote Sensing of the Lower Atmosphere by Stephens e-book (1994),
  • Intro to the Physics and Techniques of Remote Sensing, 2nd Ed. by Elachi and van Zyl (2006),
  • Remote Sensing: The Image Chain Approach, 2nd Ed. by Schott e-book (2007),
  • Introduction to Remote Sensing 5th ed.   by Campbell  e-book (2011).
  • Laser Remote Sensing by Measures (1992),
  • Microwave Radar and Radiometric Remote Sensing, by Ulaby et al. e-book (2014),

as well as other library books and books from past classes (e.g., EE 330, METEO 436, etc.) and the INTERWEB!! Oh, and

Course Requirements and Grading Policy:

  • Homework 50%
    Homework is given weekly and is considered an important part of the class.  Students tend to find the problems more challenging than homework of other classes and should expect to spend considerable time on it.  Students are encouraged to work together on the homework problems, though each student is responsible for handing in an individual homework set.
  • Quizes (1 mid-semester and 1 final at 15% each): 30%
    The purpose of the exams is to test the individual student’s progress in the class.
  • Term Projects: 15% 
    Each student is expected to investigate a remote sensing topic of their choice utilizing actual data from a remote sensing instrument or platform.  The instructor can be consulted for ideas!   

Note: Project topics are due part-way through the semester.

  • Class participation: 5%

[1] Note:  some of these are getting quite oldish, but still useful for the basics!  Some are even on-line at PSU libraries!!!

Date/ Topics / Comments/Reading

  • 24 Aug. Intro (Course, Students, Data, etc.) Ch. 1 (all) 
  • 26 Aug. Platforms (Satellites, etc.) Ch. 10 (all) and 11.1
  • 28 Aug. Resolutions (Accuracies, Errors, etc.) handouts
  • 31 Aug. Stuff
  • 2 Sept. Review of E&M and Waves (UPWs, photons, etc.) 2.1
  • 4 Sept. Phase / Polarization 2.2
  • 7 Sept. Polarization / Interaction with Materials 3.1
  • 9 Sept. Materials / Interfaces 3.1 and 3.2
  • 11 Sept. Interfaces and Surfaces “
  • 14 Sept. Diffraction and Propagation 2.4 and 2.7
  • 16 Sept. Radiative Transfer (Definitions / Radiative Transfer) 2.5 and 3.5
  • 18 Sept. Absorption and Spectra 2.3 and 3.4
  • 21 Sept. Scattering (Particles) 3.6
  • 23 Sept. Scattering (Surfaces) 3.3
  • 25 Sept. Emission / R.S. Queries from HW 2.6 Project Topics Due
  • 28 Sept. Emission / Rad. Trans. Summary 5.4
  • 30 Sept. Environment Overview 4.1 thru 4.3
  • 2 Oct. Atmospheres 4.4 thru 4.6
  • 5 Oct. Space Weather handouts
  • 7 Oct. Oceans / Land Surfaces / etc. 4.7
  • 9 Oct. QUIZLET “re-read” stuff you haven’t yet!
  • 12 Oct. Passive Optical Systems (Overview/Examples/Hardware) 5.2, 5.3, 5.5 and 6.1
  • 14 Oct. Emission/Absorption Photometry 6.4 and 6.7
  • 16 Oct. Surface Imagery / Thermal Imagery 6.2 and 6.6
  • 19 Oct. Image Processing 11.2 thru 11.4
  • 21 Oct. Image Processing and Examples 5.6, 6.3, 6.5, and 6.8
  • 23 Oct. Passive RF Systems (Blackbody Radiation Review) 7.2
  • 26 Oct. System Design, Calibration, and Hardware 7.1
  • 28 Oct. Rad. Transfer, Weighting Functions, and Atmos. Apps 7.3
  • 30 Oct. More Applications (Atmospheric & Surfaces) 7.4
  • 2 Nov. Data Analysis, Examples 7.5
  • 4 Nov. Active RF Systems (Active systems & Range equations) 9.2
  • 6 Nov. RCS thru Antennas (and other hardware) handouts
  • 9 Nov. Doppler Systems / Weather Radars handouts
  • 11 Nov. Upper Atmospheric Radars / Surface Scatter Systems 9.3 and 9.4
  • 13 Nov. Altimetry / Hard-target systems 8.2
  • 16 Nov. Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR) 9.5
  • 18 Nov. Active Optical Systems (Range equation, etc.) 9.1 and handouts
  • 20 Nov. Hardware / R.S. Queries from HW Thanksgiving (26 Nov.)
  • 30 Nov. Elastic Systems / Non-linear Systems handouts
  • 2 Dec. Underwater / Laser Ranging handouts
  • 4 Dec. Laser Ranging 8.1
  • 7 Dec. Additional Methods (e.g., Acoustics) 11.5 and 11.6
  • 9 Dec. Indirect Approaches (e.g., GPS Apps) / Inversion Tech. Projects DUE !!!
  • 11 Dec. Examples / Data Handling / etc. …and then the Final

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