Acquire your data

First of all you need two things: On the one hand, obviously enough, a problem that you want to answer with remote sensing tools and, on the other hand, data with which you can accomplish this.
In this chapter, you will get to know two optical (Landsat 8 & Sentinel 2) and one SAR satellites (Sentinel 1) in more detail. At the end of the chapter, you will know where and how to acquire individual or immense amounts of data.

Chapter in a Box

In this chapter, the following content awaits you:

– get an overview of remote sensing applications and various satellite missions
Sensor Basics
– repeat basic concepts of remote sensing imaging
– deepen your knowledge about the four resolutions in RS
Landsat Earthexplorer & BIG DATA Download
– use USGS EarthExplorer for browsing and downloading Landsat imagery
– learn how to download an impressive amount of Landsat data
Sentinel SciHUB & BIG DATA Download
– use ESA SciHUB for browsing and downloading Sentinel 1 and 2 imagery
– learn how to download an impressive amount of Sentinel data

Remote Sensing Applications

In general, satellite remote sensing has enabled major advances in understanding global climate systems and its changes. Thus, most of the research questions are aimed at better understanding and quantifying climate change to some extent. The results are regularly compiled in the IPCC reports.
However, the focus of our chair at the FU-Berlin is on the analysis of land cover and land use changes (LULC), which includes all subsystems of the earth and allows a wide range of questions.

crop type classification, crop condition assessement, crop yield estimation & forecasting, precision farming, irrigation management

Soil & Geology
mapping of soil types, soil moisture, mapping of soil management practicies, groundwater discharge, permafrost carbon storage, extracting mineral deposits, lithological and structural mapping, detect oil reserves, sediment transport modelling, dinosaur tracks

Forest & Vegetation
species classification, deforestation processes, tree crown delineation, biomass, stress monitoring (infestations), carbon storage assessement, estimating forest supplies

Oceans & Water Bodies
sea surface temperature, sea current monitoring, wave height, mean sea level delineation, water salinity, algae growth/ red tides, coral reefs, surface wind speed & direction, oil slicks, fishing activities, watershed delineation, wetland preserving

urbanisation/ population growth, urban heat island, local climate zones, urban structure types, automatic road network delineation, solar panel energy optimization, monitor traffic jams, night time activity, locate construction alteration, ancient archaelogical sites

Fire & Disasters
active fires, burned areas, fire severity, coal mine fires, vulcanic ash monitoring, post earthquake or floods damage mapping, assessement of droughts, landslides, dust storms, tsunamis

Ice & Glacier
monitoring ice sheets and glaciers, glacier melting, snow melt runoff, carbon content assessement, ship tracking & routing


Earth Observation Missions

There is a tremendous amount of free data products (FREE) provided by various remote sensing missions. We will take a closer look at three of them in the upcoming sections (Landsat 8, Sentinel 2 and Sentinel 1).
Then again, companies, as Digital Globe und Planet Labs, offer very high quality commercial data products (COMMercial) for large amounts of money (four-digit range or more). Nevertheless, such data is sometimes offered free of charge during Announcement of Opportunitiy (AO)-events or can be used for scientific purposes when you submit a project proposal (PROPosal) at any time. Additionally, it is worth to visit the mission websites, as there might be some selected sample data sets for free – but pay attention to the user agreements!
In the following an overview of the most popular imaging remote sensing programms is given. The corresponding data providers are linked. Each of these satellites has unique specifications and different mission goals and may well complement each other for your research.

Landsat 5/7/8 03/1984 – today USGS Earth Explorer
Sentinel 2 06/2015 – today ESA SciHUB
Sentinel 3 02/2016 – today ESA SciHUB
RapidEye 02/2009 – today Planet EyeFind
Sentinel 1 04/2014 – today ESA SciHUB
TerraSAR-X 06/2007 – today AIRBUS TSX Archive