New Center for Remote Sensing Research - Y Magazine
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New Center for Remote Sensing Research

By Julie Walker

BYU has created an inter-disciplinary Center for Remote Sensing that will coordinate and support studies of the earth’s atmosphere, climate, and environment through high-tech mapping and remote sensing research.

Jointly sponsored by the College of Engineering and the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, the center will bring together more than $3 million in annual outside research funding. David G. Long, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, will direct the center while Perry J. Hardin, an associate professor of geography, will serve as its associate director.

Remote sensing—the study of distant objects or systems without physical contact—encompasses data gathered from telescopes, cameras, radar satellites, and other microwave sensors. At BYU, remote sensing data is used for studies of everything from the melting of polar ice to rainforest destruction to the mapping of groundwater and archaeological sites.

“Developments in the technology of remote sensing have enabled us to better understand the global atmosphere, ocean and biosphere, and our effects on the climate and the environment,” says Long, a former Jet Propulsion Lab researcher who is a lead investigator on several NASA projects.

Hardin says the center brings together several complementary groups. “The engineering departments bring experience in hydrology, satellite sensors, and signal processing algorithms, while the Department of Geography brings experience in earth science and research applications,” he says. “These groups provide a wonderful synergism for moving remote sensing and earth science forward at BYU.”

Long says that the use of computerized geographic information systems has increased dramatically in the last decade, and computer programs have become much more sophisticated in their use of remotely sensed data. The new center will give students access to the latest technologies and will also allow them to participate in high-profile research supported by such entities as NASA and the National Science Foundation. The center also plans to offer students a certification program in remote sensing.