Thursday, April 19, 2012

Introducing Laramie Junior High School Students to Remote Sensing Concepts and Applications

One hundred and fourteen students in Ron Whitman’s eight grade physical and seventh grade biological sciences classes (three class periods each on April 4th and 5th, 2012) learned how remotely sensed images are acquired in different regions of the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) and their uses for monitoring earth surface features such as trees, crops, bare ground, water, roads, buildings, etc.

WyomingView coordinator Ramesh Sivanpillai described the differences in the interaction of earth surface features with EMR, and how those interactions result in their appearances or colors.  Students learned the uses of images collected by satellites and airplanes for monitoring the effects of beetle attacks on pine trees, deforestation, crop growth, and changes in the surface areas of lakes and reservoirs.  Mr. Whitman commented that the presentation helped “students understand the use of different electromagnetic waves for practical applications.”

In the lab, students working in teams used ALTA™ Spectrometers to measure spectral reflectance in 10 different regions of EMR.  Next, they calculated percent reflectance values, which were then plotted against wavelength to generate the spectral signature for each leaf.  

Analyses of these signatures led the students to conclude that the spectral signature of each leaf was distinct.  

Hands-on lab component for measuring and calculating “percent reflectance of the four types of leaves at different wavelengths, actively engaged the students the entire lab time” Mr. Whitman said.  Sivanpillai explained the differences in the spectral signatures of different earth surface features and remote sensing scientists rely on these signatures for mapping those features.

This educational outreach activity was conducted as part of AmericaView’s Earth Observation Day activities aimed at introducing teachers and students to remote sensing science and applications.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


The Laramie River topped its banks in June 2010 Albany County as a result of snowmelt, flooding several streets and parks in the City of Laramie (more information on Laramie Boomerang). City’s Greenbelt and several properties were severely impacted as a result of this flooding event. Albany County Emergency Management personnel had to divert water upstream of Laramie to protect properties in the city.

Data collected by Thematic Mapper on the Landsat 5 satellite on 21 June 2010 (above) shows the extent of flooding (water appears black in color). Laramie River appears as a narrow, meandering feature in the 29 June 2007 (normal flow) image also acquired by Landsat 5.

Data collected by Landsat and other moderate resolution satellites can be used to gain insights about past flooding patterns and devise plans to minimize the impacts of future floods.

Landsat satellites are jointly managed by USGS ( and NASA (