Remote Sensing Technologies

understanding the technologies needed to sense our world

About Us

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has maintained a key role in the field of remote sensing since its founding in 1879. The USGS is not only a user of remote sensing data but also one of the world’s largest providers of the data, employing the best tools and techniques to carry out its mission of observing and understanding the world around us, thus expanding our knowledge of the Earth.

The Remote Sensing Technologies (RST) Project has been established to provide technical expertise and services to the USGS and partners across government, industry, and academia, with a focus on satellite sensors’ capabilities, reliability, and accuracy. The RST Project works with aerial imaging technology (film and digital), satellite technology (commercial, government, and foreign), as well as emerging sensors such as Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) to further understand how these technologies can assist science, land management, and civil uses.

The RST Project operates two laboratories: the Optical Science Laboratory (OSL) in Reston, Virginia, provides calibration of aerial film cameras; and a research laboratory at the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. examines emerging digital aerial technologies. An Inter-Agency Digital Imaging Working Group (IADIWG) involving U.S. Federal Government agencies was formed to improve and promote digital aerial imaging in the United States. Currently, IADIWG is working on the Digital Aerial Imagery Quality Assurance Plan.

The RST Project works extensively with international commercial satellite data to understand the capabilities and limitations of the sensors. Representing the USGS in the Joint Agency Commercial Imagery Evaluation (JACIE) Program, RST helps host the annual Civil Commercial Imagery Evaluation Workshop. Additionally, the RST Project has led the technical efforts associated with the Landsat Data Gap study and implementation planning.

The RST Project works closely with other USGS Centers and relies on partnerships and associations around the country as well as internationally. These partnerships and communications are critical to staying up to date with the rapidly evolving and growing capabilities in remote sensing.

For more information about the RST Project, please contact Gregory L. Stensaas at 605-594-2569 or

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Page Last Modified: January 8, 2013