NASA Remote Sensing and Archaeology

Part of the Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing book series (RDIP, volume 16)


Although not its primary mission, NASA’s remote sensing missions have been providing archaeologists with useful and unique data since the launch of the very first earth observing missions. While imaging the Earth with a variety of multispectral and hyperspectral instrument mounted on both orbital and suborbital platforms, NASA scientists and collaborators from international universities have discovered, delineated and analyzed archaeological sites worldwide using remotely sensed digital imagery. Several of the ten NASA centers have collaborated with archaeologists to refine and validate the use of active and passive remote sensing for archeological use. The Stennis Space Center (SSC), located in Mississippi USA has been the NASA leader in archeological research. Together with colleagues from Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), SSC scientists have provided the archaeological community with useful images and sophisticated processing that have pushed the technological frontiers of archaeological research and applications. Successful projects include identifying prehistoric roads in Chaco canyon, mapping the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery route, assessing prehistoric settlement patterns in southeast Louisiana, discovering the lost city of Ubar and mapping ancient irrigation channels at Angkor. The Scientific Data Purchase (SDP) managed from SSC solicited commercial remote sensing companies to collect archaeological data. Recently, NASA formally solicited “space archaeology” proposals through its Earth Science Directorate and continues to assist archaeologists and cultural resource managers in doing their work more efficiently and effectively. Hyperspectral data offers new opportunities for future archeological discoveries.


NASA Stennis Space Center Archaeology Remote sensing History Hyperspectral 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Stennis Space CenterHattiesburgUSA

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