Fundamentals of remote sensing


This course introduces the principles lying behind remote sensing, concentrating on space-borne platforms. The fundamentals of electro-magnetic (EM) radiation are explained, as are its interactions with Earth’s surface and atmosphere. The course goes on to examine sensor characteristics, satellite orbits and various current and future missions involving a range of sensors across the visible, radar and microwave components of the spectrum. When dealing with images, the skills of image processing are used to extract meaning and interpretation from the spatial relationships of data, and the basics of image processing are also taught. The course includes a large number of examples of applications of remote sensing to environmental questions.


Learning outcomes
After the course you will be able to understand the information content of remotely sensed data and how to retrieve the information. You will be able to decide which remote sensing techniques suite your specific needs. Particularly, given below are the list of outcomes expected from this course:


  • Demonstrate detailed, integrated knowledge of the application and history of remote sensing;
  • Discuss the nature of electromagnetic radiation and its interaction with the earth's surface and atmosphere;
  • Give insight into remote sensing, both theory (mathematical and physical background) and in practice (applications and training).
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the differences between remote sensing systems and be aware of their characteristics and limitations;
  • Competently interpret, process and evaluate remotely sensed images and be able to use remote sensing to achieve self-defined goals;
  • Understand and use the language of image data to a professional standard in written reports;
  • Define and use appropriately basic concepts related to satellite orbits;
  • Discuss with critical insight appropriate radiometric correction techniques;
  • Apply image georeferencing and geocoding techniques for the geometric correction of optical images


  • Physical principles of the visible, infrared and microwave section of the electromagneticspectrum
  • Remote sensing platforms and sensors
  • Imaging systems, scanning modes (types of systems, resolving power, etc.)Landsat TM, SPOT bands and uses
  • Data acquisition, storage and processing
  • Illumination sources for remote sensing purposes
  • Influence and consequences of the atmosphere on capturing remotely sensed images
  • Theories regarding the nature of EM energy; spectroscopy
  • Types of analyses of EM spectra of materialsReflectance of materials
  • Wien’s, Stefan-Boltzmann laws and their implications
  • Scattering in the atmosphere; and why it occurs
  • Raster data; what it is, how displayed; DEMs
  • Resolutions (e.g., in Landsat TM data)
  • Resampling methods
  • Radiometric operations
  • Digital image classification
  • Projections/coordinates, datums
  • Registering images, geo correction, error




Allocated time per teaching and learning method



Teaching / learning method

Allocated Hours



Supervised practicals


Unsupervised practicals


Individual assignment


Group assignment










There will be a midterm and a final examination (comprising multiple choice questions and
essay/numerical question). All examinations will be closed book and closed notes. In addition, students will be given some assignments related to working with different image sensors, remote sensing image radiometric corrections, image classification and geo-correction.



Final Grade Determination




Individual Assignments

30 %

Midterm Examination

30 %

Final Examination

40 %



Good basics in mathematics and physics.



Lillesand, T. M. and Kiefer, R. W. (2004). Remote sensing and image interpretation. Fifth Edition. Wiley, 736pp. 
K.N.Toosi University
Address: No. 1346, ValiAsr Street, Mirdamad cross, Geomatics Engineering Faculty, K.N. Toosi University of Technology, Tehran, Iran.
Post Code: 15433-19967 
 Tel: +98 21 88877071-2 
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