1.2 Milestones in the History of Remote Sensing

The following is a brief list of the times when innovative development of remote sensing were documented. More details may be found in Lillesand and Kiefer (1987) and Campbell (1987).

1839 Photography was invented
1858 Parisian Photographer, Gaspard Felix Tournachon used a balloon to ascend to a height of 80m to obtain the photograph over Bievre, France
1882 Kites were used for photography
1909 Airplanes were used as a platform for photography
1910-20 World War I. Aerial reconnaissance: Beginning of photo interpretation
1920-50 Aerial photogrammetry was developed
1934 American Society of Photogrammetry was established. Radar development for military use started
1940's Color photography was invented
1940's Non-visible portions of electromagnetic spectrum, mainly near-infrared, training of photo-interpretation
1950-1970 Further development of non-visible photography, multi-camera photography, color-infrared photography, and non-photographic sensors. Satellite sensor development - Very High Resolution Radiometer (VHRR), Launch of weather satellites such as Nimbus and TIROS
1962 The term "Remote Sensing" first appeared
1972 The launch of Landsat-1, originally ERTS-1,Remote sensing has been extensively investigated and applied since then
1982 Second generation of Landsat sensor: Thematic Mapper
1986 French SPOT-1 High Resolution Visible sensors MSS, TM, HRV have been the major sensors for data collection for large areas all over the world. Such data have been widely used in natural resources inventory and mapping. Major areas include agriculture, forest, wet land, mineral exploration, mining, etc.
1980-90 Earth-Resources Satellite from other countries such as India, Japan, and USSR. Japan's Marine Observing Satellite (MOS - 1)
1986- A new type of sensor called an imaging spectrometer, has been developed.
  • developers: JPL, Moniteq,ITRES and CCRS.
  • Products: AIS, AVIRIS, FLI, CASI, SFSI, etc. A more detailed description of this subject can be found in Staenz (1992).
1990- Proposed EOS aiming at providing data for global change monitoring. Various sensors have been proposed.
  • Japan's JERS-1 SAR,
  • European ERS Remote Sensing Satellite SAR,
  • Canada's Radarsat
  • Radar and imaging spectrometer data will be the major theme of this decade and probably next decade as well