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Just over 30 years ago, the first Landsat satellite launch unofficially ushered in the remote sensing era. Of course, air photos, aeromag and a variety of airborne scanner data were available before this time (air photos since early in the 20th century). Nonetheless, for the first time, almost anyone could acquire image coverage of almost any place on the Earth.
Compared to sub-meter resolution and hundreds of bands of hyperspectral data available today, the ERTS-1 (Landsat-1) 80-m resolution, four-spectral-band data from the Multispectral Scanner seem rather crude. However, the data revealed previously unrecognized fault zones more than 1,000 km long (e.g., the Zagros suture), and the number of known volcanic edifices increased by an order of magnitude.
Every major oil company and many large independents acquired remote sensing groups. Most of those specialists are gone, but many explorationists have some knowledge of satellite data. Times have changed – it is useful to look at several trends prevalent in the use of remote sensing and its sister technology, GIS (geographic information systems).
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