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Countless advances on space remote sensing has provided useful information toward understanding different Earth-system processes. Satellite imagery provided the first large-scale maps of weather patterns, vegetation health, atmospheric pollutants, soil moisture and rock types, among others. Satellite-derived cartography has also helped to map species distributions and disease risks. With the increase number of earth-observation satellites and the availability of imagery, data costs will significantly decrease. As such satellite remote sensing is likely to continue to grow as an operational tool for mapping, monitoring, and managing the Earth, as a profit-making entity and as a primary data source for Earth-system science. Therefore, multinational cooperation is needed to maintain a consistent supply of global data and to ensure continuous measurements, stunning images and deeper understanding of the Earth.

Original publication




Journal article


American Scientist

Publication Date





390 - 398