How Can Getting Farther Away from Earth Help Us See It More Clearly?
ESU101  A Bird's Eye View

The ability of humans to view Earth from above has increased with technology. Some of the first attempts to see the bigger picture involved getting a camera above Earth, then retrieving and developing the film.

Honoré Daumier

Photographing Paris from a balloon, 1862.

Camera mounted on a bird for pictures from behind enemy lines in WWII.

Agricultural Research Service

Airplane with camera mounted underneath.


Terra satellite gathering information about Earth.

Today, many cameras and other sensors are orbiting Earth on satellites. The instruments beam data down to receiving stations on Earth where they are processed to generate visible images. The techniques and analysis procedures used in exploring our planet from above are referred to as remote sensing.

Government agencies commonly pay the expense of designing high-tech instruments and putting satellites into orbit. Scientists, policy makers, and students can access and use many satellite images to get a bigger view of our home planet.

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