This Glossary was extracted directly from an Internet
Site prepared by Jeff
Weissel and others at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
of Columbia University and is reproduced here with
their permission. Their sources for the definitions
come principally from:
1) S.A. Drury, `A Guide to Remote Sensing', (Oxford), 199 pp.,
2) F.F. Sabins, `Remote Sensing Principles and Interpretation',
2nd Edition, (W.H. Freeman & Co.), 449 pp., 1987
While the Columbia University Glossary is comprehensive, it is out of date. There is a newer version on the Web, which has proved difficult to download. We cite it here as Glossary 1. We also recommend these other glossaries: Glossary 2, Glossary 3, and Glossary 4, whose developers will be evident when you link onto each.
- absolute temperature-Temperature measured on the Kelvin scale, whose base is absolute
zero, i.e. -273 °C; 0 °C is expressed as 273 °K.
- absorptance-A measure of the ability of a material to absorb EM energy at
a specific wavelength.
- absorption band-Wavelength interval within which electromagnetic radiation is
absorbed by the atmosphere or by other substances.
- absorptivity-Capacity of a material to absorb incident radiant energy.
- achromatic vision-The perception by the human eye of changes in brightness, often
used to describe the perception of monochrome or black and white
- active remote sensing-Remote sensing methods that provide their own source of electromagnetic
radiation to illuminate the terrain. Radar is one example.
- acuity-A measure of human ability to perceive spatial variations in
a scene. It varies with the spatial frequency, shape, and contrast
of the variations, and depends on whether the scene is coloured
- additive primary colors-Blue, green, and red. Filters of these colors transmit the primary
color of the filter and absorb the other two colors.
- adiabatic cooling-Refers to decrease in temperature with increasing altitude.
- advanced very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR)-Crosstrack multispectral scanner on a NOAA polar-orbiting satellite
that acquires five spectral bands of data (0.55 to 12.50 µm) with
a ground resolution cell of 1.1 by 1.1 km.
- aerial magnetic survey-Survey that records variations in the earth's magnetic field.
- air base-Ground distance between optical centers of successive overlapping
- airborne imaging spectrometer (AIS)-Along-track multispectral scanner with spectral bandwidth of
- airborne visible and infrared imaging spectrometer (AVIRIS)-Experimental airborne along-track multispectral scanner under
development at JPL to acquire 224 images in the spectral region
from 0.4 to 2.4 µm.
- AIS-Airborne imaging spectrometer.
- albedo (A)-Ratio of the amount of electromagnetic energy reflected by a
surface to the amount of energy incident upon it.
- along-track scanner-Scanner with a linear array of detectors oriented normal to flight
path. The IFOV of each detector sweeps a path parallel with the
- alteration-Changes in color and mineralogy of rocks surrounding a mineral
deposit that are caused by the solutions that formed the deposit.
Suites of alteration minerals commonly occur in zones.
- amplitude-For waves, the vertical distance from crest to trough.
- Analog display-A form of data display in which values are shown in graphic form,
such as curves. Differs from digital displays in which values
are shown as arrays of numbers.
- analogue image-An image where the continuous variation in the property being
sensed is represented by a continuos variation in image tone.
In a photograph this is achieved directly by the grains of photosensitive
chemicals in the film; in an electronic scanner, the response
in, say, millivolts is transformed to a display on a cathode-ray
tube where it may be photographed.
- angular beam width-In radar, the angle subtended in the horizontal plane by the
- angular field of view-Angle subtended by lines from a remote sensing system to the
outer margins of the strip of terrain that is viewed by the system.
- angular resolving power-Minimum separation between two resolvable targets, expressed
as angular separation.
- anomaly-An area on an image that differs from the surrounding, normal
area. For example, a concentration of vegetation within a desert
scene constitutes an anomaly.
- antenna-Device that transmits and receives microwave and radio energy
in radar systems.
- aperture-Opening in a remote sensing system that admits electromagnetic
radiation to the film in radar systems.
- Apollo-U.S. lunar exploration program of satellites with crews of three
- apparent thermal inertia (ATI)-An approximation of thermal inertia calculated as one minus albedo
divided by the difference between daytime and nighttime radiant
- artefact-A feature on an image which is produced by the optics of the
system or by digital image processing, and sometimes masquerades
as a real feature.
- ASA index-Index of the American Standards Association designating film
speed, or sensitivity to light. Higher values indicate higher
sensitivity. The ASA index has been replaced by the ISO index.
- ATI-Apparent thermal inertia.
- atmosphere-Layer of gases that surrounds some planets.
- atmospheric correction-Image-processing procedure that compensates for effects of selectivity
scattered light in multispectral images.
- atmospheric shimmer-An effect produced by the movement of masses of air with different
refractive indices, which is most easily seen in the twinkling
of stars. Shimmer results in blurring on remotely sensed images,
and is the ultimate control over the resolution of any system.
- atmospheric window-Wavelength interval within which the atmosphere readily transmits
- attitude-Angular orientation of remote sensing system with respect to
a geographic reference system.
- AVHRR-Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer, a multispectral imaging
system carried by the TIROS-NOAA series of meteorological satellites.
- AVIRIS-Airborne visible and infrared imaging spectrometer.
- azimuth-Geographic orientation of a line given as an angle measured in
degrees clockwise from north.
- azimuth direction-In radar images, the direction in which the aircraft is heading.
Also called flight direction.
- azimuth resolution-In radar images, the spatial resolution in the azimuth direction.
- background-Area on an image or the terrain that surrounds an area of interest,
- backscatter-In radar, the portion of the microwave energy scattered by the
terrain surface directly back toward the antenna.
- backscatter coefficient-A quantitative measure of the intensity of energy returned to
a radar antenna from the terrain.
- band-A wavelength interval in the electromagnetic spectrum. For example,
in Landsat images the bands designate specific wavelength intervals
at which images are acquired.
- base-height ratio-Air base divided by aircraft height. This ratio
determines vertical exaggeration on stereo models.
- batch processing-Method of data processing in which data and programs are entered
into a computer that carries out the entire processing operation
with no further instructions.
- bathymetry-Configuration of the seafloor.
- beam-A focused pulse of energy.
- bin-One of a series of equal intervals in a range of data, most commonly
employed to describe the divisions in a histogram.
- binary-Numerical system using the base 2.
- bit-Contraction of binary digit, which in digital computing represents
an exponent of the base 2.
- blackbody-An ideal substance that absorbs all the radiant energy incident
on it and emits radiant energy at the maximum possible rate per
unit area at each wavelength for any given temperature. No actual
substance is a true blackbody, although some substances, such
as lampblack, approach its properties.
- blind spot-The point of the optic nerve to the retina where no radiation
is detected by the eye.
- brightness-Magnitude of the response produced in the eye by light.
- brute-force radar-See real-aperture radar.
- byte-A group of eight bits of digital data.
- calibration-Process of comparing an instrument's measurements with a standard.
- calorie-Amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1g of water
by 1 °C.
- camouflage detection photographs-Another term for IR color photograph.
- cardinal point effect-In radar, very bright signatures caused by optimally oriented
corner reflectors, such as buildings.
- cathode ray tube (CRT)-A vacuum tube with a phosphorescent screen on which images are
displayed by an electron beam.
- CCD-Charge-coupled detector.
- CCT-Computer-compatible tape.
- cell assemblies-The linked receptors, retinal neurons, and neural cells in the
visual cortex of the brain which enable interaction between perception
and past experience.
- centerpoint-The optical center of a photograph.
- change-detection images-A difference image prepared by digitally comparing images acquired
at different times. The gray tones or colors of each pixel record
the amount of difference between the corresponding pixels of the
- charge-coupled detector (CCD)-A device in which electron are stored at the surface of a semiconductor.
- chlorosis-Yellowing of plant leaves resulting from an imbalance in the
iron metabolism caused by excess concentrations of copper, zinc,
manganese, or other elements in the plant.
- chromatic vision-The perception by the human eye of changes in hue.
- circular scanner-Scanner in which a faceted mirror rotates about a vertical axis
to sweep the detector IFOV in a series of circular scan lines
on the terrain.
- classification-Process of assigning individual pixels of an image to categories,
generally on the basis of spectral reflectance characteristics.
- coastal zone color scanner (CZCS)-A satellite-carried multi-spectral scanner designed to measure
chlorophyll concentrations in the oceans.
- coherent radiation-Electromagnetic radiation whose waves are equal in length and
are in phase, so that waves at different points in space act in
unison, as in laser and synthetic aperture radar.
- color composite image-Color image prepared by projecting individual black-and-white
multispectral images, each through a different color filter. When
the projected images are superposed, a color composite image results.
- color ratio composite image-Color composite image prepared by combining individual ratio
images for a scene using a different color for each ratio image.
- complementary colors-Two primary colors of light (one additive and the other subtractive)
that produce white light when added together. Red and cyan are
- computer-compatible tape (CCT)-The magnetic tape on which the digital data for Landsat MSS and
TM images are distributed.
- conduction-Transfer of electromagnetic energy through a solid material by
- cones-Receptors in the retina which are sensitive to colour. There
are cones sensitive to the red, green, and blue components of
- contact print-A reproduction from a photographic negative in direct contact
with photosensitive paper.
- context-The known environment of a particular feature on an image.
- contrast-The ratio between the energy emitted or reflected by an object
and its immediate surroundings.
- contrast enhancement-Image-processing procedure that improves the contrast ratio of
images. The original narrow range of digital values is expanded
to utilize the full range of available digital values.
- contrast ratio-On an image, the ratio of reflectances between the brightest
and darkest parts of an image.
- contrast stretching-Expanding a measured range of digital numbers in an image to
a larger range, to improve the contrast of the image and its component
- convection-Transfer of heat through the physical movement of heated matter.
- corner reflector-Cavity formed by two or three smooth planar surfaces intersecting
at right angles. Electromagnetic waves entering a corner reflector
are reflected directly back toward the source.
- COSMIC-Computer Software Management and Information Center, University
of Georgia. This facility distributes computer programs developed
by U.S. government-funded projects.
- cross-polarized-Describes a radar pulse in which the polarization direction
of the return is normal to the polarization direction of the transmission.
Cross-polarized images may be HV (horizontal transmit, vertical
return) or VH (vertical transmit, horizontal return).
- cross-track scanner-Scanner in which a faceted mirror rotates about
a horizontal axis to sweep the detector IFOV in a series of parallel
scan lines oriented normal to the flight direction.
- CRT-Cathode ray tube.
- cut off-The digital number in the histogram of a digital image which
is set to zero during contrast stretching. Usually this is a value
below which atmospheric scattering makes a major contribution.
- cycle-One complete oscillation of a wave.
- CZCS-Coastal Zone color scanner.
- data collection system (DCS)-On Landsats 1 and 2, the system that acquired information from
seismometers, flood gauges, and other measuring devices. These
data were relayed to ground receiving stations.
- densitometer-Optical device for measuring the density of photographic transparencies.
- density, of images-Measure of the opacity, or darkness, of a negative or positive
- density, of materials (r)-Ratio of mass to volume of a material, typically expressed as
grams per cubic centimeter.
- density slicing-Process of converting the continuous gray tones of an image into
a series of density intervals, or slices, each corresponding to
a specific digital range. The density slices are then displayed
either as uniform gray tones or as colors.
- depolarized-Refers to a change in polarization of a transmitted radar pulse
as a result of various interactions with the terrain surface.
- depression angle (y)-In radar, the angle between the imaginary horizontal plane passing
through the antenna and the line connecting the antenna and the
- detectability-Measure of the smallest object that can be discerned on an image.
- detector-Component of a remote sensing system that converts electromagnetic
radiation into a recorded signal.
- developing-Chemical processing of an exposed photographic emulsion to produce
- dielectric constant-Electrical property of matter that influences radar returns.
Also referred to as complex dielectric constant.
- difference image-Image prepared by subtracting the digital values of pixels in
one image from those in a secon image to produce a third set of
pixels. This third set is used to form the difference image.
- diffuse reflector-Surface that reflects incident radiation nearly equally in all
- digital display-A form of data display in which values are shown as arrays of
- digital image-An image where the property being measured has been converted
from a continuous range of analogue values to a range expressed
by a finite number of integers, usually recorded as binary codes
from 0 to 255, or as one byte.
- digital image processing-Computer manipulation of the digital-number values of an image.
- digital number (DN)-Value assigned to a pixel in a digital image.
- digitization-Process of converting an analog display into a digital display.
- digitizer-Device for scanning an image and converting it into numerical
- directional filter-Mathematical filter designed to enhance on an image those linear
features oriented in a particular direction.
- distortion-On an image, changes in shape and position of objects with respect
to their true shape and position.
- Doppler principle-Describes the change in observed frequency that electromagnetic
or other waves undergo as a result of the movement of the source
of waves relative to the observer.
- Doppler shift-A change in the observed frequency of EM or other waves caused
by the relative motion between source and detector. Used principally
in the generation of synthetic-aperture radar images.
- dwell time-Time required for a detector IFOV to sweep across a ground resolution
- EDC-EROS Data Center.
- edge-A boundary in an image between areas with different tones.
- edge enhancement-Image-processing technique that emphasizes the appearance of
edges and lines.
- Ektachrome-A Kodak color positive film.
- electromagnetic radiation-Energy propagated in the form of and advancing interaction between
electric and magnetic fields. All electromagnetic radiation moves
at the speed of light.
- electromagnetic spectrum-Continuous sequence of electromagnetic energy arranged according
to wavelength or frequency.
- emission-Process by which a body radiates electromagnetic energy. Emission
is determined by kinetic temperature and emissivity.
- emissivity (e )- Ratio of radiant flux from a body to that from a blackbody at
the same kinetic temperature and emissivity.
- emittance-A term for the radiant flux of energy per unit area emitted by
a body. (Now obsolete).
- emulsion-Suspension of photosensitive silver halide grains in gelatin
that constitutes the image-forming layer on photographic film.
- energy flux-Radiant flux.
- enhancement-Process of altering the appearance of an image so that the interpreter
can extract more information.
- EOSAT-The commercial company that took over operations of the Landsat
system in 1985.
- ERBSS-Earth Radiation Budget Sensor System, carried by NOAA satellites.
- EREP-Earth Resources Experiment Package, carried on Skylab and consisting
of cameras and multispectral scanner.
- EROS-Earth Resources Observation System.
- EROS Data Center (EDC)-Facility of the U.S. Geological Survey at Sioux Falls, South
Dakota, that archives, processes, and distributes images.
- ERTS-Earth Resource Technology Satellite, now called Landsat.
- ESA- European Space Agency, based in Paris. A consortium between
several European states for the development of space science,
including the launch of remote-sensing satellites.
- ETC-Earth-terrain camera.
- Evaporative cooling-Temperature drop caused by evaporation of water from a moist
- false colour image-A colour image where parts of the non-visible EM spectrum are
expressed as one or more of the red, green, and blue components,
so that the colours produced by the Earth's surface do not correspond
to normal visual experience. Also called a false-colour composite
(FCC). The most commonly seen false-colour images display the
very-near infrared as red, red as green, and green as blue.
- false color photograph-Another term for IR color photograph.
- far range-The portion of a radar image farthest from the aircraft or spacecraft
- film-Light-sensitive photographic emulsion and its base.
- film speed-Measure of the sensitivity of photographic film to light. Larger
numbers indicate higher sensitivity.
- filter, digital-Mathematical procedure for modifying values of numerical data.
- filter, optical-A material that, by absorption or reflection, selectivity modifies
the radiation transmitted through an optical system.
- flight path-Line on the ground directly beneath a remote sensing aircraft
or space craft. Also called flight line.
- fluorescence-Emission of light from a substance following exposure to radiation
from an external source.
- f-number-Representation of the speed of a lens determined by the
focal length divided by diameter of the lens. Smaller numbers
indicate faster lenses.
- focal length-In cameras, the distance from the optical center of the lens
to the plane at which the image of a very distant object is brought
- foreshortening-A distortion in radar images causing the lengths of slopes facing
the antenna to appear shorter on the image than on the ground.
It is produced when radar wavefronts are steeper than the topographic
- format-Size of an image.
- forward overlap-The percent of duplication by successive photographs along a
- fovea-The region around that point on the retina intersected by the
eye's optic axis, where receptors are most densely packed. It
is the most sensitive part of the retina.
- frequency (v )-The number of wave oscillations per unit time or the number of
wavelengths that pass a point per unit time.
- f-stop-Focal length of a lens divided by the diameter of the len's
adjustable diaphragm. Smaller numbers indicate larger openings, which admit
more light to the film.
- GCP-Ground-control point.
- Gemini-U.S. program of two-man earth-orbiting spacecraft in 1965 and
- geographic information system (GIS)-A data-handling and analysis system based on sets of data distributed
spatially in two dimensions. The data sets may be map oriented,
when they comprise qualitative attributes of an area recorded
as lines, points, and areas often in vector format, or image oriented,
when the data are quantitative attributes referring to cells in
a rectangular grid usually in raster format. It is also known
as a geobased or geocoded information system.
- geometric correction-Image-processing procedure that corrects spatial distortions
in an image.
- geostationary-Refers to satellites traveling at the angular velocity at which
the earth rotates; as a result, they remain above the same point
on earth at all times.
- Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-a NOAA satellite that acquires visible and thermal IR images
for meteorologic purposes.
- geostationary orbit-An orbit at 41 000 km in the direction of the Earth's rotation,
which matches speed so that a satellite remains over a fixed point
on the Earth's surface.
- geothermal-Refers to heat from sources within the earth.
- Goddard Space Flight Center-The NASA facility at Greenbelt, Maryland, that is also a Landsat
ground receiving station.
- GMT-Greenwich mean time. This international 24-h system is used to
designate the time at which Landsat images are acquired.
- GOES-Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.
- gossan-Surface occurrence of iron oxide formed by the weathering of
metallic sulfide ore minerals.
- granularity-Graininess of developed photographic film that is determined
by the texture of the silver grains.
- gray scale-A sequence of gray tones ranging from black to white.
- grid format-The result of interpolation from values of a variable measured
at irregularly distributed points, or along survey lines, to values
referring to square cells in a rectangular array. It forms a step
in the process of contouring data, but can also be used as the
basis for a raster format to be displayed and analyzed digitally
after the values have been rescaled to the 0-255 range.
- ground-control point-A geographic feature of known location that is
recognizable on images and can be used to determine geometric
- ground range-On radar images, the distance from the ground track to an object.
- ground-range image-Radar image in which the scale in the range direction
- ground receiving station-Facility that records data transmitted by a satellite, such as
- ground resolution cell-Area on the terrain that is covered by the IFOV of a detector.
- ground swath-Width of the strip of terrain that is imaged by a scanner system.
- GSFC-Goddard Space Flight Center
- harmonic-Refers to waves in which the component frequencies are whole-
number multiples of the fundamental frequency.
- HCMM-Heat Capacity Mapping Mission, the NASA satellite launched in
1978 to observe thermal properties of rocks and soils. It remained
in orbit for only a few months.
- heat capacity-(c ) Ratio of heat absorbed or released by a material to the
corresponding temperature rise or fall. Expressed in calories
per gram per degree centigrade. Also called thermal capacity.
- Heat Capacity Mapping Mission (HCMM)-NASA satellite orbited in 1978 to record daytime and nighttime
visible and thermal IR images of large areas.
- highlights-Areas of bright tone on an image.
- high-pass filter-A spatial filter which selectively enhances contrast
variations with high spatial frequencies in an image. It improves
the sharpness of images and is a method of edge enhancement.
- HIRIS-High Resolution Imaging Spectrometer, possibly to be carried
by the Space Shuttle.
- HIRS-High Resolution Infrared Spectrometer, carried by NOAA satellites.
- histogram-A means of expressing the frequency of occurrence of values in
a data set within a series of equal ranges or bins, the height
of each bin representing the frequency at which values in the
data set fall within the chosen range. A cumulative histogram
expresses the frequency of all values falling within a bin and
lower in the range. A smooth curve derived mathematically from
a histogram is termed the probability density function (PDF).
- hue-In the IHS system, represents the dominant wavelength of a color.
- IFOV-Instantaneous field of view.
- IHS-Intensity, hue, and saturation system of colors.
- image-pictorial representation of a scene recorded by a remote sensing
system. Although image is a general term, it is commonly restricted
to representations acquired by non-photographic methods.
- image dissection-The breaking down of a continuous scene into discrete spatial
elements, either by the receptors on the retina, or in the process
of capturing the image artificially.
- image striping-A defect produced in line scanner and pushbroom imaging devices
produced by the non-uniform response of a single detector, or
amongst a bank of detectors. In a line-scan image the stripes
are perpendicular to flight direction, but parallel to it in a
- image swath-See ground swath.
- incidence angle-In radar, the angle formed between an imaginary line normal to
the surface and another connecting the antenna and the target.
- incident energy-Electromagnetic radiation impinging on a surface.
- index of refraction (n) -Ratio of the wavelength or velocity of electromagnetic radiation
in a vacuum to that in a substance.
- instantaneous field of view (IFOV)- Solid angle through which a detector is sensitive to radiation.
In a scanning system, the solid angle subtended by the detector
when the scanning motion is stopped.
- intensity-In the IHS system, brightness ranging from black to white.
- interactive processing-Method of image processing in which the operator views preliminary
results and can alter the instructions to the computer to achieve
- interpretation-The process in which a person extracts information from an image.
- interpretation key-Characteristic or combination of characteristics that enable
an interpreter to identify an object on an image.
- IR-Infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum that includes
wavelengths from 0.7µm to 1 mm.
- IR color photograph-Color photograph in which the red-imaging layer is sensitive
to photographic IR wavelengths, the green-imaging layer is sensitive
to red light, and the blue-imaging layer is sensitive to green
light. Also known as camouflage detection photographs and false-color
- ISO index- Index of the International Standards Organization, designating
film speed in photography. Higher values indicate higher sensitivity.
- isotherm-Contour line connecting points of equal temperature. Isotherm
maps are used to portray surface-temperature patterns of water
- Johnson Space Flight Center-A NASA facility in Houston, Texas.
- JPL-Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a NASA facility at Pasadena, California,
operated under contract by the California Institute of Technology.
- Ka band-Radar wavelength region from 0.8 to 1.1 cm.
- kernel-Two-dimensional array of digital numbers used in digital filtering.
- kinetic energy-The ability of a moving body to do work by virtue of its motion.
The molecular motion of matter is a form of kinetic energy.
- kinetic temperature-Internal temperature of an object determined by random molecular
motion. Kinetic temperature is measured with a contact thermometer.
- Kodachrome-A Kodak color positive film.
- LACIE-Large Area Crop Inventory Experiment.
- Landsat-A series of unnamed earth-orbiting NASA satellites that acquire
multispectral images in various visible and IR bands.
- Laplacian filter-A form of nondirectional digital filter.
- large-format camera (LFC)-An experiment first carried on the Space Shuttle in October 1984.
- laser-Light artificially stimulated electromagnetic radiation: a beam
of coherent radiation with a single wavelength.
- latent image- Invisible image produced by the photochemical effect of light
on silver halide grains in the emulsion of film. The latent image
is not visible until after photographic development.
- layover-In radar images, the geometric displacement of the top of objects
toward the near range relative to their base.
- L band-Radar wavelength region from 15 to 30 cm.
- lens-One or more pieces of glass or other transparent material shaped
to form an image by refraction of light.
- LFC-Large-format camera.
- lidar-Light intensity detection and ranging, which uses lasers to stimulate
fluorescence in various compounds and to measure distances to
- light-Electromagnetic radiation ranging from 0.4 to 0.7µm in wavelength
that is detectable by the human eye.
- light meter-Device for measuring the intensity of visible radiation and determining
the appropriate exposure of photographic film in a camera.
- lineament-Linear topographic or tonal feature on the terrain and on images,
maps, and photographs that may represent a zone of structural
- linear-Adjective that describes the straight line-like nature of features
on the terrain or on images and photographs.
- lineation-The one-dimensional alignment of internal components of a rock
that cannot be depicted as an individual feature on a map.
- line drop out-The loss of data from a scan line caused by malfunction of one
of the detectors in a line scanner.
- line-pair-Pair of light and dark bars of equal widths. The number of such
line-pairs aligned side by side that can be distinguished per
unit distance expresses the resolving power of an imaging system.
- line scanner-An imaging device which uses a mirror to sweep the ground surface
normal to the flight path of the platform. An image is built up
as a strip comprising lines of data.
- look angle-The angle between the vertical plane containing a radar antenna
and the direction of radar propagation. Complementary to the depression
- look direction-Direction in which pulses of microwave energy are transmitted
by a radar system. The look direction is normal to the azimuth
direction. Also called range direction.
- look-up table (LUT)-A mathematical formula used to convert one distribution of data
to another, most conveniently remembered as a conversion graph.
- low-sun-angle photograph-Aerial photograph acquired in the morning, evening, or winter
when the sun is at a low elevation above the horizon.
- luminance-Quantitative measure of the intensity of light from a source.
- Mach band-An optical illusion of dark and light fringes within adjacent
areas of contrasted tone. It is a psychophysiological phenomenon
which aids human detection of boundaries or edges.
- median filter-A spatial filter, which substitutes the median value of DN from
surrounding pixels for that recorded at an individual pixel. It
is useful for removing random noise.
- Mercury-U.S. program of one-man, earth-orbiting spacecraft in 1962 and
- microwave-Region of the elctromagnetic spectrum in the wavelength range
of 0.1 to 30 cm.
- mid-infrared (MIR)-The range of EM wavelengths from 8 to 14 µm dominated by emission
of thermally generated radiation from materials; also known as
- Mie scattering-The scattering of EM energy by particles in the atmosphere with
comparable dimensions to the wavelength involved.
- minimum ground separation-Minimum distance on the ground between two targets at which they
can be resolved on an image.
- minus-blue photographs-Black-and-white photographs acquired using a filter that removes
blue wavelengths to produce higher spatial resolution.
- mixed pixel-A pixel whose DN represents the average energy reflected or emitted
by several types of surface present within the area that it represents
on the ground; sometimes called a mixel.
- modular optoelectric multispectral scanner (MOMS)-An along-track scanner carried on the Space Shuttle that recorded
two bands of data.
- modulate-To vary the frequency, phase, or amplitude of electromagnetic
- modulation transfer function (MTF)-A method of describing spatial resolution.
- MOMS-Modular optoelectric multispectral scanner.
- MOS-1-Marine Observation Satellite, launched by Japan in 1987.
- mosaic-Composite image or photograph made by piecing together individual
images or photographs covering adjacent areas.
- MSS-Multispectral scanner system of Landsat that acquires images
of four wavelength bands in the visible and reflected IR regions.
- multiband camera-System that simultaneously acquires photographs of the same scene
at different wavelengths.
- multispectral classification-Identification of terrain categories by digital processing of
data acquired by multispectral scanners.
- multispectral scanner-Scanner system that simultaneously acquires images of the same
scene at different wavelengths.
- nadir-Point on the ground directly in line with the remote sensing
system and the center of the earth.
- NASA-National Aeronautical and Space Administration.
- near infrared (NIR)-The shorter wavelength range of the infrared region of the EM
spectrum, from 0.7 to 2.5 µm. It is often divided into very-near
infrared (VNIR) covering the range accessible to photographic
emulsions (0.7 to 1.0m), and the short-wavelength infrared (SWIR)
covering the remainder of the NOR atmospheric window from 1.0
- near range-Refers to the portion of a radar image closest to the aircraft
or satellite flight path.
- negative photograph-Photograph on film or paper in which the relationship between
bright and dark tones is the reverse of that of the features on
- NHAP-National High Altitude Photography program of the U.S. Geological
- NOAA-National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- noise-Random or repetitive events that obscure or interfere with the
- nondirectional filter-Mathematical filter that treats all orientations of linear features
- non-selective scattering-The scattering of EM energy by particles in the atmosphere which
are much larger than the wavelengths of the energy, and which
causes all wavelengths to be scattered equally.
- non-spectral hue-A hue which is not present in the spectrum of colours produced
by the analysis of white light by a prism of diffraction grating.
Examples are brown, magenta, and pastel shades.
- nonsystematic distortion-Geometric irregularities on images that are not constant and
cannot be predicted from the characteristics of the imaging system.
- normal color film-Film in which the colors are essentially true representations
of the colors of the terrain.
- NSSDC-National Space Science Data Center.
- oblique photograph-Photograph acquired with the camera intentionally directed at
some angle between horizontal and vertical orientations.
- OMS-Orbital maneuvering system.
- orbit-Path of a satellite around a body such as the earth, under the
influence of gravity.
- orthophotograph-A vertical aerial photograph from which the distortions due to
varying elevation, tilt, and surface topography have been removed,
so that it represents every object as if viewed directly from
- orthophotoscope-An optical-electronic device which converts a normal vertical
aerial photograph to an orthophotograph.
- overlap-Extent to which adjacent images or photographs cover the same
terrain, expressed as a percentage.
- panchromatic film-Black and white film that is sensitive to all visible wavelengths.
- parallax-Displacement of the position of a target in an image caused by
a shift in the observation system.
- parallax difference-The difference in the distance on overlapping vertical photographs
between two points, which represent two locations on the ground
with different elevations.
- parallel-polarized-Describes a radar pulse in which the polarization of the return
is the same as that of the transmission. Parallel-polarized images
may be HH (horizontal transmit, horizontal return) or VV (vertical
transmit, vertical return).
- pass-In digital filters, refers to the spatial frequency of data transmitted
by the filter. High-pass filters transmit high-frequency data;
low-pass filters transmit low-frequency data.
- passive microwaves-Radiation in the 1 mm to 1 m range emitted naturally by all materials
above absolute zero.
- passive remote sensing-Remote sensing of energy naturally reflected or radiated from
- path-and-row index-System for locating Landsat MSS and TM images.
- pattern-Regular repetition of tonal variations on an image or photograph.
- periodic line dropout-Defect on Landsat MSS or TM images in which no data are recorded
for every sixth or sixteenth scan line, causing a black line on
- periodic line striping-Defect on Landsat MSS or TM images in which every sixth or sixteenth
scan line is brighter or darker than the others. Caused by the
sensitivity of one detector being higher or lower than the others.
- photodetector-Device for measuring energy in the visible-light band.
- photogeology-Mapping and interpretation of geologic features from aerial photographs.
- photograph-Representation of targets on film that results from the action
of light on silver halide grains in the film's emulsion.
- photographic IR-Short-wavelength portion (0.7 to 0.9 µm) of the IR band that
is detectable by IR color film or IR black-and-white film.
- photographic UV-Long-wavelength portion of the UV band (0.3 to 0.4 µm) that is
transmitted through the atmosphere and is detectable by film.
- photomosaic-Mosaic composed of photographs.
- photon-Minimum discrete quantity of radiant energy.
- photopic vision-Vision under conditions of bright illumination.
- picture element-In a digitized image, the area on the ground represented by each
digital number. Commonly contracted to pixel.
- pitch-Rotation of an aircraft about the horizontal axis normal to its
longitudinal axis that causes a nose-up or nose-down attitude.
- pixel-Contraction of picture element.
- Planck's Law-An expression for the variation of emittance of a blackbody at
a particular temperature as a function of wavelength.
- point spread function (PSF)- The image of a point source of radiation, such as a star, collected
by an imaging device. A measure of the spatial fidelity of the
- polarization-The direction of orientation in which the electrical field vector
of electromagnetic radiation vibrates.
- polar orbit-An orbit that passes close to the poles, thereby enabling a satellite
to pass over most of the surface, except the immediate vicinity
of the poles themselves.
- polarized radiation-Electromagnetic radiation in which the electrical field vector
is contained in a single plane, instead of having random orientation
relative to the propagation vector. Most commonly refers to radar
- positive photograph-Photographic image in which the tomes are directly proportional
to the terrain brightness.
- previsual symptom-A vegetation anomaly that is recognizable on IR film before it
is visible to the naked eye or on normal color photographs. It
results when stressed vegetation loses its ability to reflect
photographic IR energy and its recognizable on IR color film by
a decrease in brightness of the red hues.
- primary colors-A set of three colors that in various combinations will produce
the full range of colors in the visible spectrum. There are two
sets of primary colors, additive and subtractive.
- principal component analysis-The analysis of covariance in a multiple data set so that the
data can be projected as additive combinations on to new axes,
which express different kinds of correlation among the data.
- principal-component (PC) image-Digitally processed image produced by a transformation that recognizes
maximum variance in multispectral images.
- principal point-Optical center of an aerial photograph.
- printout-Display of computer data in alphanumeric format.
- probability density function (PDF)-A function indicating the relative frequency with which any measurement
may be expected to occur. In remote sensing it is represented
by the histogram of DN in one band for a scene.
- pulse-Short burst of electromagnetic radiation transmitted by a radar
- pulse length-Duration of a burst of energy transmitted by a radar antenna,
measured in microseconds.
- pushbroom scanner-An alternate term for an along-track scanner
- pushbroom system-An imaging device consisting of a fixed linear array of many
sensors which is swept across an area by the motion of the platform,
thereby building up an image. It relies on sensors whose response
and reading is nearly instantaneous, so that the image swathe
can be segmented into pixels representing small dimensions on
- quantum-The elementary quantity of EM energy that is transmitted by a
particular wavelength. According to the quantum theory, EM radiation
is emitted, transmitted, and absorbed as numbers of quanta, the
energy of each quantum being a simple function of the frequency
of the radiation.
- radar-Acronym for radio detection and ranging. Radar is an active form
of remote sensing that operates in the microwave and radio wavelength
- radar altimeter-A non-imaging device that records the time of radar returns from
vertically beneath a platform to estimate the distance to and
hence the elevation of the surface; carried by Seasat and the
- radar cross section-A measure of the intensity of backscattered radar energy from
a point target. Expressed as the area of a hypothetica surface
which scatters radar equally in all directions and which would
return the same energy to the antenna.
- radar scattering coefficient-A measure of the back-scattered energy from a target with a large
area. Expressed as the average radar cross section per unit area
in decibels (dB). It is the fundamental measure of the radar properties
of a surface.
- radar scatterometer-A non-imaging device that records radar energy backscattered
from terrain as a function of depression angle.
- radar shadow-Dark signature on a radar image representing no signal return.
A shadow extends in the far-range direction form an object that
intercepts the radar beam.
- radial relief displacement-The tendency of vertical objects to appear to learn radially
away from the center of a vertical aerial photograph. Caused by
the conical field of view of the camera lens.
- radian-Angle subtended by an arc of a circle equal in length to the
radius of the circle 1 rad = 57.3¡.
- radiant energy peak-Wavelength at which the maximum electromagnetic energy is radiated
at a particular temperature.
- radiant flux-Rate of flow of electromagnetic radiation measured in watts per
- radiant temperature-Concentration of the radiant flux from a material. Radiant temperature
is the kinetic temperature multiplied by the emissivity to the
- radiation-Propagation of energy in the form of electromagnetic waves.
- radiometer-Device for quantitatively measuring radiant energy, especially
- random line dropout-In scanner images, the loss of data from individual scan lines
in a nonsystematic fashion.
- range-In radar usage this is the distance in the direction of radar
propagation, usually to the side of the platform in an imaging
radar system. The slant range is the direct distance from the
antenna to the object, whereas the distance from the ground track
of the platform to the object is termed the ground range.
- range direction-See look direction.
- range resolution-In radar images, the spatial resolution in the range direction,
which is determined by the pulse length of the transmitted microwave
- raster-The scanned and illuminated area of a video display, produced
by a modulated beam of electrons sweeping the phosphorescent screen
line by line from top to bottom at a regular rate of repetition.
- raster format-A means of representing spatial data in the from of a grid of
DN, each line of which can be used to modulate the lines of a
- raster pattern-Pattern of horizontal lines swept by an electron beam across
the face of a CRT that constitute the image display.
- ratio image-An image prepared by processing digital multi-spectral data as
follows: for each pixel, the value for one band is divided by
that of another. The resulting digital values are displayed as
- Rayleigh criterion-In radar, the relationship between surface roughness, depression
angle, and wavelength that determines whether a surface will respond
in a rough or smooth fashion to the radar pulse.
- Rayleigh scattering-Selective scattering of light in the atmosphere by particle that
are small compared with the wavelength of light.
- RBV-Return-beam vidicon.
- real-aperture radar-Radar system in which azimuth resolution is determined
by the transmitted beam width, which is in turn determined by
the physical length of the antenna and by the wavelength.
- real time-Refers to images or data made available for inspection simultaneously
with their acquisition.
- recognizability-Ability to identify an object on an image.
- rectilinear-Refers to images with no geometric distortion in which the scales
in the horizontal and vertical directions are identical.
- redundancy-Information on an image which is either not required for interpretation
or cannot be seen. Redundancy may be spatial or spectral. The
term also refers to multispectral data where the degree of correlation
between bands is so high that one band contains virtually the
same information as all the bands.
- reflectance-Ratio of the radiant energy reflected by a body to the energy
incident on it. Spectral reflectance is the reflectance measured
within a specific wavelength interval.
- reflected energy peak-Wavelength (0.5 µm) at which maximum amount of energy is reflected
from the earth's surface.
- reflected IR-Electromagnetic energy of wavelengths from 0.7 µm to about 3
µm that consists primarily of reflected solar radiation.
- reflectivity-Ability of a surface to reflect incident energy.
- refraction-Bending of electromagnetic rays as they pass from one medium
into another when each medium has a different index of refraction.
- registration-Process of superposing two or more images or photographs so that
equivalent geographic points coincide.
- relief-Vertical irregularities of a surface.
- relief displacement-Geometric distortion on vertical aerial photographs. The tops
of objects appear in the photograph to be radially displaced from
their bases outward from the photograph's centerpoint.
- remote sensing-collection and interpretation of information about an object
without being in physical contact with the object.
- resampling-The calculation of new DN for pixels created during geometric
correction of a digital scene, based on the values in the local
area around the uncorrected pixels.
- reseau marks-Pattern of small crosses added to photographs.
- resolution-Ability to separate closely spaced objects on an image or photograph.
Resolution is commonly expressed as the most closely spaced line-pairs
per unit distance that can be distinguished. Also called spatial
- resolution target-Series of regularly spaced alternating light and dark bars used
to evaluate the resolution of images or photographs.
- resolving power-A measure of the ability of individual components. and of remote
sensing systems, to separate closely spaced targets.
- reststrahlen band-In the IR region, refers to absorption of energy as a function
of silica content.
- return-In radar, a pulse of microwave energy reflected by the terrain
and received at the radar antenna. The strength of a return is
referred to as return intensity.
- return-beam vidicon (RBV)- A system in which images are formed on the photosensitive surface
o a vacuum tube; the image is scanned with an electron beam and
transmitted or recorded. Landsat 3 used a pair of RBV's to acquire
- ringing-Fringe-like artefacts produced at edges by some forms of spatial-frequency
- rods-The receptors in the retina that are sensitive to brightness
- roll-Rotation of an aircraft that causes a wing-up or wing-down attitude.
- roll compensation system-Component of an airborne scanner system that measures and records
the roll of the aircraft. This information is used to correct
the imagery for distortion due to roll.
- rough criterion-In radar, the relationship between surface roughness, depression
angle, and wavelength that determines whether a surface will scatter
the incident radar pulse in a rough or intermediate fashion.
- roughness-In radar, the average vertical relief of a small-scale irregularities
of the terrain surface. Also called surface roughness.
- SAMII-Stratospheric Aerosol Measurement experiment, carried by Nimbus-7.
- SAMS-Stratospheric and Mesospheric Sounder, carried by Nimbus-7.
- satellite-An object in orbit around a celestial body.
- saturation-In the IHS system, represents the purity of color. Saturation
is also the condition where energy flux exceeds the sensitivity
range of a detector.
- SBUV-Solar Back-scatter Ultraviolet Instrument, carried by NOAA satellites.
- scale-Ratio of distance on an image to the equivalent distance on the
- scan line-Narrow strip on the ground that is swept by IFOV of a detector
in a scanning system.
- scanner-An imaging system in which the IFOV of one or more detectors
is swept across the terrain.
- scanner distortion-Geometric distortion that is characteristic of cross-track scanner
- scan skew-Distortion of scanner images caused by forward motion of the
aircraft or satellite during the time required to complete a scan.
- scattering-Multiple reflections of electromagnetic waves by particles or
- scattering coefficient curves-Display of scatterometer data in which relative backscatter is
shown as a function of incidence angle.
- scatterometer-Nonimaging radar device that quantitatively records backscatter
of terrain as a function of incidence angle.
- scene-Area on the ground that is covered by an image or photograph.
- scotopic vision-Vision under conditions of low illumination, when only the rods
are sensitive to light. Visual acuity under these conditions is
highest in the blue part of the spectrum.
- Seasat-NASA unmanned satellite that acquired L-band radar images in
- sensitivity-Degree to which a detector responds to electromagnetic energy
incident on it.
- sensor-Device that receives electromagnetic radiation and converts it
into a signal that can be recorded and displayed as either numerical
data or an image.
- Shuttle imaging radar (SIR)-L-band radar system deployed on the Space Shuttle.
- sidelap-Extent of lateral overlap between images acquired on adjacent
- side-looking airborne radar (SLAR)-An airborne side scanning system for acquiring radar images.
- side-scanning sonar-Active system for acquiring images of the seafloor using pulsed
- side-scanning system-A system that acquires images of a strip of terrain parallel
with the flight or orbit path but offset to one side.
- signal-Information recorded by a remote sensing system.
- signal to noise radio (S/N)-The ratio of the level of the signal carrying real information
to that carrying spurious information as a result of defects in
- silver halide-Silver salts that are especially sensitive to visible light and
convert to metallic silver when developed.
- SIR-Shuttle Imaging Radar, synthetic-aperture radar experiments carried
aboard the NASA Space Shuttle in 1981 and 1984.
- Skylab-U.S.earth-orbiting workshop that housed three crews of three
astronauts in 1973 and 1974.
- skylight-Component of light that is strongly scattered by the atmosphere
and consists predominantly of shorter wavelengths.
- slant range-In radar, an imaginary line running between the antenna and the
- slant-range distance-Distance measured along the slant range.
- slant-range distortion-Geometric distortion of a slant-range image.
- slant-range image-In radar, an image in which objects are located at positions
corresponding to their slant-range distances from the aircraft
path. On slant-range images, the scale in the range direction
is compressed in the near-range region
- SLAR-Side-looking airborne radar.
- SMIRR-Shuttle Multispectral Infrared Radiometer, a non-imaging spectroradiometer
carried by the NASA Space Shuttle covering ten narrow wavebands
in the 0.5-2.4 m range.
- SMMR-Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer, carried by Nimbus-7.
- smooth criterion-In radar, the relationship between surface roughness, depression
angle, and wavelength that determines whether a surface will scatter
the incident radar pulse in a smooth or intermediate fashion.
- software-Programs that control computer operations.
- sonar-Acronym for sound navigation ranging. Sonar is an active form
of remote sensing that employs sonic energy to image the seafloor.
- Space Shuttle-U.S. manned satellite program in the 1980s, officially called
the Space Transportation System (STS).
- Space Station-A planned series of three polar-orbiting, sun-synchronous satellites
to be launched by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Japanese
Space Agency in the 1990s. They will carry a large range of remote-sensing
- spatial-frequency filtering-The analysis of the spatial variations in DN of an image and
the separation or suppression of selected frequency ranges.
- specific heat-The ratio of the heat capacity of unit mass of a material to
the heat capacity of unit mass of water.
- spectral hue-A hue which is present in the spectral range of white light analysed
by a prism or diffraction grating.
- spectral reflectance-Reflectance of electromagnetic energy at specified wavelength
- spectral sensitivity-Response, or sensitivity, of a film or detector to radiation
in different spectral regions.
- spectral vegetation index-An index of relative amount and vigor of vegetation. The index
is calculated from two spectral bands of AVHRR imagery.
- spectrometer-Device for measuring intensity of radiation absorbed or reflected
by a materiel as a function of wavelength.
- spectroradiometer-A device which measures the energy reflected or radiated by materials
in narrow EM wavebands.
- spectrum-Continuous sequence of electromagnetic energy arranged according
to wavelength or frequency.
- specular-Refers to a surface that is smooth with respect to the wavelength
of incident energy.
- SPOT-Systeme Probatoire d'Observation del la Terre. Unmanned French
remote sensing satellite orbiting in the late 1980s.
- Stefan-Boltzmann constant- 5.68 x 10 -12 W . cm-2 .K-4.
- Stefan-Boltzmann law-States that radiant flux of a blackbody is equal to the temperature
to the fourth power times the Stefan-Boltzmann constant.
- Stereo base-Distance between a pair of correlative points on a stereo pair
that are oriented for stereo viewing.
- stereo model-Three-dimensional visual impression produced by viewing a pair
of overlapping images through a stereoscope.
- stereo pair-Two overlapping images or photographs that may be viewed stereoscopically.
- stereopsis-The ability for objects to be perceived in three dimensions as
a result of the parallax differences produced by the eye base.
- stereoscope-Binocular optical device for viewing overlapping images or diagrams.
The left eye sees only the left image, and the right eye sees
only the right image.
- SSU-Stratosphere Sounding Unit, carried by NOAA-series satellites.
- subscene-A portion of an image that is used for detailed analysis.
- subtractive primary colors-Yellow, magenta, and cyan. When used as filters for white light,
these colors remove blue, green and red light, respectively.
- sunglint-Bright reflectance of sunlight caused by ripples on water
- sun-synchronous-Earth satellite orbit in which the orbit plane is nearly polar
and the altitude is such that the satellite passes over all places
on earth having the same latitude twice daily at the same local
- sun-synchronous orbit-a polar orbit where the satellite always crosses the Equator
at the same local solar time.
- supervised classification-Digital-information extraction technique in which the operator
provides training-site information that the computer uses to assign
pixels to categories.
- surface phenomenon-Interaction between electromagnetic radiation and the surface
of a material.
- surface roughness-See roughness.
- synthetic-aperture radar (SAR)-Radar system in which high azimuth resolution is achieved by
storing and processing data on the Doppler shift of multiple return
pulses in such a way as to give the effect of a much longer antenna.
- synthetic stereo images-Stereo images constructed through digital processing of a single
image. Topographic data are used to calculate parallax.
- system-Combination of components that constitute an imaging device.
- systematic distortion-Geometric irregularities on images that are caused by known and
- target-Object on the terrain of specific interest in a remote sensing
- TDRS-Tracking and Data Relay Satellite
- telemeter-To transmit data by radio or microwave links.
- terrain-Surface of the earth.
- texture-Frequency of change and arrangement of tones on an image.
- Thematic Mapper (TM)- A cross-track scanner deployed on Landsat that records seven
bands of data from the visible through the thermal IR regions.
- thermal capacity (c )- See heat capacity.
- thermal conductivity (K)- Measure of the rate at which heat will pass through a material,
expressed in calories per centimeter per second per degree Centigrade.
- thermal crossover-On a plot of radiant temperature versus time, the point at which
temperature curves for two different materials intersect.
- thermal diffusivity (k)- Governs the rate at which temperature changes within a substance,
expressed in centimeters squared per second.
- thermal inertia (P)-Measure of the response of a material to temperature changes,
expressed in calories per square centimeter per square root of
- thermal IR-IR region from 3 to 14 µm that is employed in remote sensing.
This spectral region spans the radiant power peak of the earth.
- thermal IR image- Image acquired by a scanner that records radiation within the
thermal IR band.
- thermal IR multispectral scanner (TIMS)- Airborne scanner that acquires multispectral images within the
8-to-14mm band of the thermal IR region.
- thermal model-Mathematical expression that relates thermal and other physical
properties of a material to its temperature. Models may be used
to predict temperature for given properties and conditions.
- thermography-Medical applications of thermal IR images. Images of the body,
called thermograms, have been used to detect tumors and monitor
- THIR-Temperature-Humidity Infrared Radiometer, carried by Nimbus-7.
- tie-point-A point on the ground which is common to two images. Several
are used in the coregistration of images.
- TIMS-Thermal IR multispectral scanner.
- TM-Thematic mapper.
- tone-Each distinguishable shade of gray from white to black on an
- topographic inversion-An optical illusion that may occur on images with extensive shades.
Ridges appear to be valleys, and valleys appear to be ridges.
The illusion is corrected by orienting the image so that the shadows
trend from the top margin of the image to the bottom.
- topographic reversal-A geomorphic phenomenon in which topographic lows coincide with
structural highs and vice versa. Valleys are eroded on crests
of anticlines to cause topographic lows, and synclines form ridge,
or topographic highs.
- TOVS-TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder.
- Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-Geostationary satellite used to communicate between ground receiving
stations and satellite such as Landsat.
- training area-A sample of the Earth's surface with known properties; the statistics
of the imaged data within the area are used to determine decision
boundaries in classification.
- trade-off-As a result of changing one factor in a remote sensing system,
there are compensating changes elsewhere in the system; such a
compensating change is known as a trade-off.
- training site-Area of terrain with known properties or characteristics that
is used in supervised classification.
- transmissivity-Property of a material that determines the amount of energy that
can pass through the material.
- transparency-Image on a transparent photographic material, normally a positive
- transpiration-Expulsion of water vapor and oxygen by vegetation.
- travel time-In radar, the time interval between the generation of a pulse
of microwave energy and its return from the terrain.
- tristimulus colour theory-A theory of colour relating all hues to the combined effects
of three additive primary colours corresponding to the sensitivities
of the three types of cone on the retina.
- unsupervised classification-Digital information extraction technique in which the computer
assigns pixels to categories with no instructions from the operator.
- UV-Ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum ranging in
wavelengths from 0.01 to 0.4m.
- variance-A measure of the dispersion of the actual values of a variable
about its mean. It is the mean of the squares of all the deviations
from the mean value of a range of data.
- VAS- Atmospheric Sounder, carried by GEOS satellites
- vector format-The expression of points, lines, and areas on a map by digitized
Cartesian coordinates, directions, and values.
- vegetation anomaly-Deviation from the normal distribution or properties of vegetation.
Vegetation anomalies may be caused by faults, trace elements in
soil, or other factors.
- vertical exaggeration-In a stereo model, the extent to which the vertical scale appears
larger than the horizontal scale.
- vidicon-An imaging device based on a sheet of transparent material whose
electrical conductivity increases with the intensity of EM radiation
falling on it. The variation in conductivity across the plate
is measured by a sweeping electron beam and converted into a video
signal. Now largely replaced by cameras employing arrays of charge-coupled
- vignetting-A gradual change in overall tone of an image from the centre
outwards, caused by the imaging device gathering less radiation
from the periphery of its field of view than from the centre.
Most usually associated with the radially increasing angel between
a lens and the Earth's surface, and the corresponding decrease
in the light-gathering capacity of the lens.
- visible radiation-Energy at wavelengths from 0.4 to 0.7mm that is detectable by
the human eye.
- visual dissonance-The disturbing effect of seeing a familiar object in an unfamiliar
setting or in an unexpected colour.
- VISSR- Visible Infrared Spin-Scan Radiometer carried by the GOES satellites.
- volume scattering-In radar, interaction between electromagnetic radiation and the
interior of a material.
- watt (W)-Unit of electrical power equal to rate of work done by one ampere
under a potential of one volt.
- wavelength-Distance between successive wave crests or other equivalent points
in a harmonic wave.
- Wien's displacement law-Describes the shift of the radiant power peak to shorter wavelengths
as temperature increases.
- X band-Radar wavelength region from 2.4 to 3.8 cm.
- yaw-Rotation of an aircraft about its vertical axis so that the longitudinal
axis deviates left or right from the flight line.
Questions, Comments or Problems?
Please send e-mail to:
Primary Contact: Nicholas M. Short, Sr.
email: [email protected]
Glossary Author: Jeff Weissel ([email protected])