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Course Introduction

Introduction to the course fro Professor Iain Woodhouse.
In 2009, only 16 satellites were launched into space with the purpose of measuring the Earth. Last year, over 100 satellites were launched for the same purpose. Today, that are now over 600 satellites observing the Earth. This is set to grow rapidly over the next 10 years, because as well as governments, many new commercial companies are pushing for more and more satellites to be launched, sometimes in groups of 10 or more identical satellites. My name is Ian Woodhouse, and I’m a professor of Earth observation at the University of Edinburgh. And I’d like to welcome you to this course. We will introduce you to the incredibly exciting topic of using satellites to measure the Earth.
This is called many different things such as remote sensing, satellite imaging, or Earth observation. But all of these terms essentially mean the same thing. There are about imaging the Earth from space. In this course, we will introduce you to an enormous range of interesting applications of satellite data– from weather forecasting to mapping urban expansion, from measuring how much sea ice is lost in Antarctica, to spotting illegal deforestation in the tropical forests of Africa. We have planned this course around it being a general introduction to Earth observation. We are assuming that you are a beginner with no technical background. And we will not be covering the mathematics or the quantitative analysis of this topic.
Our primary aim is to provide you with a basic overview of how satellite observations inform our understanding of the Earth system of the natural environment and the impact that humans are having upon it. For those of you who would like to learn more, we will provide additional resources at the end. And these will be to other advanced courses or places where you can conduct formal study. This include courses at the University of Edinburgh, as well as our partners on this course– The University of Leeds, the University of Glasgow, the Open University, and STEM learning. One of the unique features of this course is the use of Earth Blox.
Earth Blox is a brand new and unique web tool that allows access to petabytes of global satellite data, all hosted on Google’s Earth Engine. There are hundreds of different types of measurements across the whole globe, with some going back to the 1980s. And Earth Blox will give you simple access to all of this data. Using a visual interface that allows you to interact with the data in many different ways, it will allow you to find any of this data for any part of the world with just a few drag and drop blocks. In various parts of this course.
Instead of just giving you a picture of example data, we’re actually going to take you directly to Earth Blox, where you will be able to explore this vast global repository at your leisure. So at specific points during the course, we’ll be using pre-built examples that will only require you to press the Go button. And that will give you some direct hands-on experience of seeing at least this particular example in action. But you’ll then, also be given the option to customise the workflow yourself so you’ll be able to choose a different location or different dates, giving you the capacity to not just experience the example that we give you, but to find your own.
We’re really excited about this course, because we believe you will have lots of fun doing it. And we’re confident that this course will give you a fantastic grounding in the subject of Earth observation, so that you will have a good understanding of the value that satellite data brings to science and society as a whole.

Welcome to the first week of the course!

We are going to begin with a brief introduction to this course by Prof Iain Woodhouse from the University of Edinburgh, explaining the range of topics to be covered and the use of Earth Blox, a unique web-based tool that will allow all participants to explore satellite images from anywhere on the world.

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Observing Earth From Space

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