GEOG 480
Exploring Imagery and Elevation Data in GIS Applications

Welcome to GEOG 480 - Exploring Imagery and Elevation Data in GIS Applications


Welcome to GEOG 480! Here is a short video welcoming you to this course (1:03).

Welcome to GEOG 480
Click here for a transcript of the Welcome video.

Hi, I'm Karen Schuckman. I'm the instructor for Geography480 Exploring Imagery and Elevation Data in GIS Applications. In Geography480, we will cover sensors and platforms that collect imagery and elevation data. We'll also talk about the many formats in which this data can be distributed. We'll discuss the spatial and spectral resolution characteristics of many forms of satellite and aircraft imagery. Students will also become familiar with the federal standards and guidelines that govern the reporting of accuracy for imagery and elevation data. Later in the course, after we've presented the fundamentals of image data and elevation data, we'll also explore the uses of these in various GIS applications. Remote sensing is one of the fastest growing areas in GIS today. I hope that students who complete this course will go on to use their skills and knowledge to emerge as leaders within their organizations.

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New to GEOG 480?

The schedule of course offerings can be found in the Penn State GIS program calendar. Class size will be limited to 25 students on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Not registered? Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback and earn academic credit. The registration process is described at the GIS: Start Today page. Information about Penn State's Online Geospatial Education Certificate and Degree programs is available here.

Registered students - If this is your first visit to this course website, please take some time to become familiar with the assignments and course environment by going to the Orientation.

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Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback, and earn academic credit. Information about Penn State's Online Geospatial Education programs is available at the Geospatial Education Program Office.

Quick Facts about GEOG 480

Instructors: Karen Schuckman, CP, PLS, MGIS and Bradley Doorn.

Course Structure: Online, 12-15 hours a week for 10 weeks

Course Description: An introductory level course focusing on the use of remotely sensed imagery and elevation data in GIS applications. Students enrolling in Geog 480 should have a solid conceptual foundation in geospatial information science and technology (equivalent to Geog 482 and Geog 483). Geog 480 is appropriate for those who are already working in the geospatial profession and wish to use imagery and elevation data in visualization and spatial analysis.

Prerequisites: Geog 482 or equivalent professional experience.

Overview: The course is specifically designed for adult professionals and is offered exclusively through the World Campus and the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Geog 480 is the first required course in the Graduate Certificate in Remote Sensing and Earth Observation. Geography 480 also fulfills a remote sensing requirement for the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in GEOINT Applications, and can be used as an elective in the Certificate of Geographic Information Systems, Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security - Geospatial Intelligence Option or the Master of Geographic Information Systems.

Students who register in the course for credit will complete eight lessons with corresponding hands-on assignments, online discussions, and an independent final project. Throughout the course, students confront realistic problem scenarios that incorporate such skills and concepts as definition of data needs, metadata content standards, data formats and types, and analysis methods.

Topics of Study: Orientation is conducted during the first official week of class and includes graded assignments. There are eight subject lessons to be completed in sequence. The final project will be developed over the entire ten-week session, with the final week of the course devoted entirely to completing the final project and written report.

  • Lesson 0: Orientation (1 week)
  • Lesson 1: Introduction (1 week)
  • Lesson 2: Sensors, Platforms, and Georeferencing (1 week)
  • Lesson 3: Production of Digital Image Base Maps (1 week)
  • Lesson 4: Production of Digital Terrain Models (1 week)
  • Lesson 5: Validation of Imagery and Elevation Data (1 week)
  • Lesson 6: Management of Imagery and Elevation Data (1 week)
  • Lesson 7: Image Enhancement, Interpretation, and Analysis (1 week)
  • Lesson 8: Terrain Modeling and Analysis (1 week)
  • Final Project: Problem Solving with Imagery and Elevation Data (1 week)

Course Objectives:

  • Describe the basic principles of image and elevation data acquisition.
  • Summarize the basic operational characteristics of commercial imaging systems.
  • Critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of optical imaging instruments and platforms for a broad range of application scenarios.
  • Perform orthorectification of digital imagery.
  • Perform simple image enhancement, image interpretation, and automated analysis using digital optical imagery.
  • Perform simple terrain analysis using digital elevation/terrain models.
  • Describe the quantitative methods and industry standards for geometric accuracy assessment of imagery and elevation data products.
  • Describe the qualitative methods and industry standards for quality assurance and quality control of imagery and elevation data products.
  • Use acquired knowledge and critical thinking skills to create visualizations and perform analysis of imagery, elevation, and supplemental vector data in GIS.


This course is offered as part of the Open Educational Resources initiative of Penn State's John A. Dutton e-Education Institute. You are welcome to use and reuse materials that appear in this site (other than those copyrighted by others) subject to the licensing agreement linked to the bottom of this and every page.