Remote Sensing


Remote Sensing at CAST


What is Remote Sensing? 

Remote sensing is the "art, science, and technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects and the environment, through a process of recording, measuring and interpreting imagery and digital representations of energy patterns derived from noncontact sensor systems" (Colwell, 1997, pp. 33-48 in the ASPRS Manual of Photographic Interpretation, 2nd Ed.).

Many have observed the integral role of remote sensing in geomatics data collection across numerous domains that span environmental scales of interest.  Remote sensing also yields new knowledge and in harmony with other geomatics disciplines, is experiencing growth across multiple sectors.

Overall Approach

CAST conducts, encourages, and supports remote sensing research over a wide array of geographic scales.  Our ongoing projects draw on orbital and aircraft-based sensor systems in a variety of current, historical, and predictive environmental domains.  CAST employs a multi-disciplinary approach to remote sensing research with collaborators representing such fields as archeology, biology, biological and agricultural engineering, business, civil engineering, computer science and engineering, entomology, environmental dynamics, geography, geology, space and planetary sciences, and urban studies. 



When investigating complex spatial phenomena, CAST focuses on the value of properly combining in situ, remote sensor, and ancillary data together while seeking improved interoperability in geomatics computing.  CAST maintains an extensive archive of remote sensor data (e.g. a large collection of imagery from the Landsat 1-7 satellite missions) and derivatives (e.g. a 2004 LIDAR-derived digital elevation model covering Benton and Washington counties).  CAST also seeks to develop online resources for improving access to remote sensor data. Ultimately, our goal is to provide real-time, or near-real-time access to satellite imagery where timely data is required such as emergency response and precision agriculture applications.

Current and Future Directions

CAST's ongoing statewide land use / land cover mapping project seeks to maintain an up-to-date picture of Arkansas' dynamic and diverse landscape.  We are actively involved in environmental remote sensing projects in forestry (GAP Analysis), hydrology, archeology, and urban studies.  We are working with hyperspectral, airborne and terrestrial LIDAR, very high resolution aerial imagery, as well as standard space-based and aerial data sources.  We seek to stay on the leading edge of technological innovation by working with such companies as Leica Geosystems, PCI Geomatics, and Definiens to investigate new modes of interoperability and efficiency in geomatics computing.  We are also conducting research in remote sensing applications of machine learning and high throughput computing.

In recent years CAST has expanded its remote sensing abilities by acquiring new instruments including a Terrahawk aerial imaging system, an ASD Spectroradiometer, and an Optech 3D laser scanner.  We are interested in developing rapid response techniques in emergency management applications.  In order to inform and educate the public, CAST remote sensing research is combined with our education and outreach efforts through ArkansasView. To access remote sensing class materials, developed with partial AmericaView funding, click here. ArkansasView also provides access to on free and discounted satellite imagery through the U.S. Geological Survey GLOVIS website.