GEOG 883
Remote Sensing Image Analysis and Applications

GEOG 883: Remote Sensing Image Analysis and Applications


Video: Remote Sensing Image Analysis and Applications (00:52)

Click here for the Remote Sensing Image Analysis and Applications video transcript.

Remote sensing is a relatively new discipline that has come to maturity in the past decade or so, due to the confluence of several different disciplines and technologies, like physics, engineering, computer science, the internet, sensors, and their deployment on platforms ranging from satellite, constellations, aircraft, and unmanned aerial systems. The deployment of novel sensors like multi-spectral, hyperspectral, radar, lidar, to name a few, has created a data deluge. And this data needs to be converted into information such that it goes to work in the public policy domains. There is an increasing need for a remote sensing literate workforce at all levels of our society. In this course, we are going to learn about remote sensing platforms, the data types that are collected, and how these are converted to actionable information for decision making. The data collected has to be pre-processed and then classified to generate map products, to address complex geospatial issues and problems. We will learn image processing techniques including multi-sensor fusion, image segmentation, geographic object-based image analysis, also known by the acronym GEOBIA, image classification, and how the resulting map product is analyzed. Remote sensing is a very central component of contemporary geospatial science and technology and it is a very powerful tool for the stewardship of our earth. And I do look forward to seeing you in class.

New to GEOG 883?

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.

Registered students

This GEOG 883 website provides the primary instructional guidance for the course. The Resources menu contains links to important supporting materials and external websites. The Orientation, Lesson 0, contains material that all students should read thoroughly, even if they have taken other online courses in the Penn State Geospatial curriculum. The first week of class will focus on the Orientation and will include assignments for credit based on this material. The Lessons menu contains links to lesson content specific to this course. Canvas, Penn State's course management system, is used to support the delivery of additional course materials, including email, discussion forums, calendar, lab data, lab instructions, and assignment submission tools.

Browse the Course Content

Use the links under the Lessons menu to preview the online course content. All of the content on this website is freely available through the Open Educational Resources Initiative. You are welcome to use and reuse materials that appear in this site (other than those cited as being copyrighted by others) subject to the licensing agreement linked to the bottom of this and every page.

The Penn State Online Geospatial Education Program will help you make sense of these complex and exciting datasets. Whether your interest is in natural disasters, environmental assessment, or national security, we’ll give you the tools tradecraft and techniques to extract actionable and meaningful information from these data. The Penn State remote sensing curriculum will help you understand that an image is more than just a pretty picture.

Quick Facts about GEOG 883


J.B. Sharma, Ph.D.

Meet J.B. Sharma, Ph.D., instructor of GEOG 883 (1:42 minutes).

Click here for a transcript of the meet the instructor video.

Hi, I’m J.B. Sharma and I’m an emeritus faculty member at the University of North Georgia. I’m also affiliated with our geospatial institute the Louis Frank Rogers Institute of Environmental Spatial Analysis, and I have been a faculty member for about 35 years. And I have been teaching and doing research in remote sensing for the past 20 years. We live in the greater Atlanta area in Gainesville, Georgia, where we have lived for over 30 years. I have a great and abiding interest in science literacy for all and I have a special interest in problems that connect physical measurement with social problems and issues. And remote sensing and geographic information sciences are just the right sciences to build these bridges. Remote sensing has now become local, and what that means is that we will need this expertise seated across our cities, our counties, our townships, such that this technology is used for governance, natural resource management, security applications, and have the kinds of capabilities that 21st century smart living spaces will need. I have several personal hobbies that inform and complement my professional work as well I like to sail on in Lake Lanier. I like to garden. I like to do woodwork and make rustic furniture, and I like to read. And I like to hike in the forests of North Georgia.

Credit: J.B. Sharma, Ph.D. © Penn State is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Course Structure:

Online, 12-15 hours a week for 10 weeks

Course Description:

A graduate level course focusing on remotely sensed data for geospatial applications. This course assumes that students have prior knowledge in the basics of remote sensing, mapping, and GIS, and have experience with geospatial software, particularly ArcGIS. Students will develop a strong understanding of the tools and techniques used to display, process, and analyze remotely sensed data. Upon completion of GEOG 883 students will be able to develop analytical workflows to derive products and extract information from remotely sensed data for a broad range of applications. The culmination of this course is an independent final project in which students will demonstrate their ability to apply new skills to a real-world situation of personal or professional interest.


GEOG 480


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 883 is a required course in the Graduate Certificate in Remote Sensing and Earth Observation. Geography 883 also fulfills a remote sensing requirement for the Graduate Certificate in GEOINT Analytics 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.

Topics of Study:

Lessons are to be completed in the order below. The final project will be developed over the entire ten-week session, with the final week of the course devoted to sharing the final projects among peers in the class.

  • Lesson 0: Orientation
  • Lesson 1: Working with Remotely Sensed Data
  • Lesson 2: Preprocessing of Remotely Sensed Data
  • Lesson 3: Emergent Earth Observation Sensors, Platforms and Analytics
  • Lesson 4: Pixel and Object-Based Image Classification
  • Lesson 5: Rule-Based Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis (GEOBIA) Classification
  • Lesson 6: Change Detection
  • Lesson 7: Machine Learning and Classification of Remotely Sensed Data
  • Lesson 8: Accuracy Assessment
  • Final Project: Remote Sensing Data Analytics (to address a contemporary socio-economic, environmental, urban, or security issue)

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of the course, students who excel are able to:

  • process remotely sensed data to make it useful in geographic information systems;
  • perform image enhancement on remotely sensed imagery;
  • extract information from remotely sensed data using a variety of manual and automated techniques;
  • critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of remote sensing instruments and platforms for a variety of application scenarios;
  • develop multi-step remote sensing workflows to solve problems in a variety of application areas;
  • apply acquired knowledge and critical thinking skills to solve a real-world problem with appropriate remote sensing data and processing methods.
  • clearly and concisely communicate findings from the analysis of remotely sensed data through the written word and graphical products.
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Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback, and earn academic credit. The registration process is described on the Penn State GIS Program Office Start Today page. Information about Penn State's Online Geospatial Education programs is available at the Geospatial Education Program Office.