What Type of Data Is Collected Through Remote Sensing?


Angela Bailey

Remote sensing is a powerful tool that allows us to collect valuable data about the Earth’s surface without physically being present at the location. This technology involves the use of sensors, which are mounted on satellites, aircraft, or even drones to capture information about various aspects of our planet.

The data collected through remote sensing can be classified into different types, each providing unique insights into our environment and helping scientists in diverse fields of study. Let’s explore some of the most common types of data collected through remote sensing:

Spectral Data

Spectral data refers to information captured across different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. By analyzing the intensity and patterns of light reflected or emitted from the Earth’s surface, scientists can gain insights into various phenomena such as vegetation health, land cover classification, and even atmospheric conditions.

Visible and Near-Infrared (VNIR) Data

VNIR data is collected in the visible and near-infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This type of data provides valuable information about vegetation health, as healthy plants tend to reflect more near-infrared light compared to unhealthy ones.

Thermal Infrared (TIR) Data

TIR data captures infrared radiation emitted by objects based on their temperature. This information is crucial for studying land surface temperature patterns, identifying heat sources such as volcanic activity or forest fires, and monitoring urban heat islands.

Radar Data

Radar data is collected using active sensors that emit microwave signals towards the Earth’s surface and measure their reflections. This type of remote sensing is useful for mapping topography, monitoring changes in land elevation, detecting objects hidden beneath dense vegetation or clouds, and even tracking ocean currents.

Lidar Data

Lidar data is collected using lasers to measure the distance between the sensor and the Earth’s surface. By analyzing the time it takes for laser pulses to return, scientists can create highly accurate three-dimensional maps of the terrain, study forest structure, monitor coastal erosion, and even measure the thickness of ice sheets.

Hyperspectral Data

Hyperspectral data captures information across hundreds of narrow spectral bands, allowing scientists to analyze the unique spectral signatures of different materials on Earth’s surface. This type of data is particularly useful for mineral exploration, identifying pollution sources, mapping coral reefs, and detecting invasive plant species.


In conclusion, remote sensing provides us with a wealth of information about our planet by collecting various types of data. From spectral data that reveals insights about vegetation health and atmospheric conditions to radar and lidar data that help us map terrain and track ocean currents, remote sensing plays a crucial role in numerous scientific fields. The visually engaging nature of remote sensing data combined with its informative capabilities makes it an indispensable tool for understanding and monitoring our ever-changing world.

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