The Electromagnetic Radiation



Radiation detected by the satellite is comprised of both terrestrial and atmospheric sources. As with all energy, radiation can change form, but it must be conserved. When radiation interacts with an object it can either be absorbed, reflected, or transmitted. The atmosphere is nearly transparent to visible radiation but acts as a very effective absorber of heat energy. Clouds are good reflectors of visible light, but how much depends upon the thickness and height of the cloud.

Satellite sensors are designed to be particularly sensitive to those wavelengths of radiant energy that can be reflected or emitted back up through the atmosphere to space. By using the laws of radiation to calibrate radiometers and interpret details displayed on satellite images, scientists can measure the height, temperature, moisture content (and more) about nearly every feature of the earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.

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