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Book Review: Fundamentals of Satellite Remote Sensing

The second edition of the book, Fundamentals of Satellite Remote Sensing — An Environmental Approach by Emilio Chuveico, published by CRC Press in 2016 is an English language version of the original Spanish book published in 1990 and updated from time to time.

The author states in the introduction that “this book is targeted mainly at environmental scientists, including biologists, geologists, ecologists, geographers, foresters, agronomists, pedologists, oceanographers, and cartographers. We will mostly deal with terrestrial applications, but some examples of atmospheric and oceanographic uses of remote sensing data will be considered as well.” The book remains true to this approach. It has a good general coverage of remote sensing technology and has an excellent coverage of applications related to environmental systems.

The introduction covers the topic of remote sensing very effectively, starting with a historical perspective and tracing the development of the technology over time to its current status. It is interesting that this chapter also includes international regulatory issues as well as technical issues and concludes with a list of additional reading material as well as tools.

The chapter on physical principles is exhaustive and covers not only the physical aspects of radiation but also its interaction with the atmosphere, living matter, geomorphological and man-made features. The entire electromagnetic domain is amply covered with excellent diagrams and imagery.

Sensors and satellites is covered extensively but the treatment of SAR is inadequate because the concept of synthesizing the aperture of the antenna using the Doppler information is not explained properly. Similarly the treatment of radar interferometry is too simplistic. Airborne scanning LiDAR systems are explained well even though the stress of the book is on space platforms. Remote sensing satellite systems are meticulously embraced right from low to high resolution, from panchromatic to hyper-spectral and covering the entire EM spectrum, but the importance of different orbits viz à viz the intended applications could have been better explained.

The chapter on the basis for analyzing EO satellite data is interesting because it is essentially a ‘how to’ manual. The treatment of the various aspects of planning a remote sensing based project is very systematically outlined. The chapter on visual analysis covers the standard methods applied to optical imagery. However, there is no mention of use of radar imagery. Similarly, while the digital data handling of optical sensors is exhaustive it misses out on the non-optical data from SAR, radiometers and LiDAR.

The chapter on modelling is an excellent exposition on both inductive and deductive reasoning. It also discusses the issues of point versus continuous data. The coverage of the standard methods like PCI and VI as well as image classification techniques is comprehensive as is the discussion on multi temporal analysis. The chapter that makes this book stand out is on analysis of spatial properties. This covers landscape ecology, spatial metrics for global and local continuous data and classified imagery. This section does cover DSM and DEM from LiDAR as well but misses out on microwave sensors.

A subject that is often glossed over is validation of results. It is heartening to see that this aspect is addressed in depth both in theory as well the ‘how to’ aspects. A range of topics is covered from sources of error and estimation of accuracy to sampling design. The chapter on the relation of remote sensing to GIS is deliberated in an interesting manner. It covers the inputs from GIS for remote sensing data interpretation and the role of remote sensing in creating GIS databases.

The illustrations in the book are excellent and are also available in Power Point slides for download. Each chapter is filled by a set of questions to test the reader.

Overall this book can serve as a basic text book for earth scientists as well as reference book.