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Remote Sensing


Remote sensing research focuses on the measurement and interpretation of atmospheric properties from the troposphere through the mesosphere. The primary instrumental systems are ground-based radars, operating at frequencies from 2 MHz through 900 MHz and beyond. The program also works with the verification of satellite-based measurement systems as well. Sites are operated world-wide -- from the South Pole to Greenland -- with a main research site at Platteville, CO. Students cover all aspects of remote sensing systems, from radio frequency design through data acquisition, signal and data processing, and interpretation of the physical phenomena. In general, a systems engineering approach to the problems is used, requiring students to be adept at more than one narrow area of expertise. Additional information is available at Students are also encouraged to participate in the campus-wide certificate program in remote sensing.

The group works extensively with Adjunct Prof. Ben Balsley, who specializes in unusual platforms such as large-scale kites and powered parachutes, and Asst. Prof. Scott Palo and Prof. Jeff Forbes, who are members of the Aerospace Engineering Sciences department. Additional collaboration occurs with members of the local laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.

Graduate Courses

ECEN 5254, Radar and Remote Sensing
ECEN 5264, Propagation Effects on Satellite and Deep-Space Telecommunications
ECEN 5274, Radar Science and Techniques

Other selected courses in signal processing and electromagnetics, including
ECEN 5114, Waveguides and Transmission Lines
ECEN 5134, Electromagnetic Radiation and Antennas
ECEN 5612, Noise and Random Processes
ECEN 5632, Theory and Application of Digital Filtering
ECEN 5642, Modern Methods of Spectral Estimation
ECEN 5652. Detection and Extraction of Signals from Noise

Courses in atmospheric physics are also recommended.

Research Topics

Current research topics include the design and development of wind profiling radars at VHF and UHF frequencies; the application of new signal processing techniques for real time detection of radar signals; the analysis of radar data using various spectral estimation techniques for atmospheric motions; a hardware system development for measuring mesospheric wind motions; and synthesis of satellite and ground-based radar for precipitation and climate studies.


A. Gasiewski (PhD Massachusetts Institute of Technology), passive and active remote sensing of atmospheric and oceanographic processes, radiative transfer theory, signal detection, estimation, and assimilation, RF, microwave, and submillimeter-wave instrumentation, calibration and metrology, meteorology and climatology, and airborne and spaceborne systems for remote sensing applications.

U.C. Herzfeld (Dr. rer. nat., Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz, 1986), geomathematics and remote sensing; satellite geophysics; Earth Observation from space; algorithm development for new sensors; altimetry; ICESat-2; cryospheric sciences (Greenland, Antarctica, Alaska, ice sheets and glaciers, fast-moving glaciers, sea ice), development of new sensors for ice observations and field deployments; airborne and spaceborne systems for remote sensing applications; spatial statistics, geostatistics and signal processing; mathematical descriptions of complexity and scale dependence; spatial surface roughness; geodesy (GPS); geophysical processes; ecology (remote sensing of canopy and ground).


Experimental work is done at the Platteville Atmospheric Observatory, which is operated by the University of Colorado in collaboration with NOAA. Experimental campaigns have been carried out using radars at Piura and Jicamarca, Peru; Poker Flat, Alaska; Areciba, Puerto Rico; and at various installations in the Pacific. Additional sites include Sondrestrom, Greenland; Resolute Bay, Canada; and the South Pole. The faculty and students of the group conduct fieldwork at these sites. Facilities are available on campus for computation and hardware development.

Current Research Support

The National Science Foundation, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provide research support. Assistantships funded by these agencies are available to qualified students.