Remote sensing: Types, advantages and disadvantages

Meaning of remote sensing

Remote sensing is the Collection of data by a recording device that is not in direct contact with the area.
Examples: Satellites, aircraft, drones, and aerial photographs

types of remote sensing

active remote sensing – this involves sending radiation out and then measuring the radiation that the earth is sending back e.g ocean current

passive remote sensing – measures the energy that is radiated from the earth e.g temperature


  • Allows coverage of very large areas.
  • Can access inaccessible areas.
  • Easy collection of data over a variety of scales and resolutions.
  • There is no limitation on the extent of information that can be gathered from a single remotely sensed image.
  • Data can easily be processed and analysed fast using a computer.
  • Does not disturb the object or the area of interest.
  • Cheap and fast method of collecting data of large areas.
  • It is easier to locate floods or forest fire that has spread over a large region which makes it easier to plan a rescue mission easily and fast.


  • Remote sensing is a fairly expensive method of analysis especially when measuring or analysing smaller areas.
  • Requires a special kind of training to analyse the images.
  • Human errors may occur during the analysing process.
  • Sometimes different phenomena being analysed may look the same during measurement which may lead to classification error.
  • Sometimes large-scale engineering maps cannot be prepared from satellite data which makes remote sensing data collection incomplete.


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