METEO / EE 477


Topics: This course introduces methods for determining various characteristics of a distant volume/target.  The course will primarily focus on electromagnetic techniques, emphasizing radio frequency (e.g. radar, microwave radiometry) and optical (e.g. lidar, imaging, spectroscopic, etc.) methods. Additional topics, such as acoustic probing, will be included depending on student interests and time constraints. Applications will address environmental as well as industrial monitoring, target ranging/ID, etc. The course will also include numerous associated topics, like environmental composition/structure, radiative transfer, data/error analysis, orbital mechanics, and safety concerns. 

Prof. Tim Kane 
Office Hours: 1:30-3 (Tues. 528 Walker),
1:30-3 (Thurs. 213 EEE)
(or by appointment) 

Prerequisites:  Introductory electromagnetics and/or radiative transfer or instructor’s consent


  • Physical Principles of Remote Sensing, 3rd Edition by W.G. Rees. (including Web resources:
  • plus additional reading material posted on CANVAS 

Additional Reading[1] 

  • Remote Sensing of the Lower Atmosphere by Stephens (1994)
  • Intro to the Physics and Techniques of Remote Sensing, 2nd Ed. by Elachi and van Zyl (2006)
  • Remote Sensing: The Image Chain Approach, 2nd Ed. by Schott (2007)
  • Laser Remote Sensing by Measures (1992)
  • Microwave Radar and Radiometric Remote Sensing, by Ulaby et al. (2014)
  • as well as books from past classes (e.g., EE 330, METEO 436, etc.) and the INTERWEB!! (e.g. 

Course Requirements and Grading Policy:

Homework 50%: Homework is given weekly, and is considered an important part of the class. Students tend to find the problems more challenging than homework of other classes, and should expect to spend considerable time on it. Students are encouraged to work together on the homework problems, though each student is responsible for handing in an individual homework set.

Quizes (1 in-class and 1 final at 15% each): 30%: The purpose of the exams is to test the individual student’s progress in the class.

Term Projects: 15%: Each student is expected to investigate a remote sensing topic of their choice utilizing actual data from a remote sensing instrument or platform. The instructor can be consulted for ideas!  Project topics are due within the first month of class.

Class participation: 5%: 

[1] Note: some of these are getting a bit oldish, but still useful for the basics! Some are even on-line at PSU libraries.

Date / Topics / Comments/Reading
21 Aug. Intro (Course, Students, Data, etc.) Ch. 1 (all)
23 Aug. Platforms (Satellites, etc.) Ch. 10 (all) and 11.1
25 Aug. Resolutions (Accuracies, Errors, etc.) handouts
28 Aug. Review of E&M and Waves (UPWs, photons, etc.) 2.1
30 Aug. Phase / Polarization 2.2
1 Sept. Polarization / Interaction with Materials 3.1
4 Sept. NO CLASS Labor Day
6 Sept. Materials / Interfaces 3.1 and 3.2
8 Sept. Interfaces and Surfaces “
11 Sept. Diffraction and Propagation 2.4 and 2.7
13 Sept. Radiative Transfer (Definitions / Radiative Transfer) 2.5 and 3.5
15 Sept. Absorption and Spectra 2.3 and 3.4
18 Sept. Scattering (Particles) 3.6
20 Sept. Scattering (Surfaces) 3.3
22 Sept. Emission / R.S. Queries from HW 2.6 Project Topics Due
25 Sept. Emission / Rad. Trans. Summary 5.4
27 Sept. Environment Overview (Atmospheres) 4.1 thru 4.3
29 Sept. Atmospheres / Space Weather 4.4 thru 4.6
2 Oct. Oceans / Land Surfaces 4.7
4 Oct. QUIZLET “re-read” stuff you haven’t yet!
6 Oct. Passive Optical Systems (Overview / Examples) 5.3 and 6.1
9 Oct. Hardware 5.2 and 5.5
11 Oct. Emission/Absorption Photometry 6.4 and 6.7
13 Oct. Surface Imagery / Thermal Imagery 6.2 and 6.6
16 Oct. Image Processing 11.2 thru 11.4
18 Oct. Image Processing and Examples 5.6, 6.3, 6.5, and 6.8
20 Oct. Passive RF Systems (Blackbody Radiation Review) 7.2
23 Oct. System Design, Calibration, and Hardware 7.1
25 Oct. Rad. Transfer, Weighting Functions, and Atmos. Apps 7.3
27 Oct. More Applications (Atmospheric & Surfaces) 7.4
30 Oct. Data Analysis, Image Processing, Examples 7.5
1 Nov. Active RF Systems (Active systems & Range equations) 9.2
3 Nov. RCS thru Antennas (and other hardware) handouts
6 Nov. Doppler Systems / Weather Radars handouts
8 Nov. Upper Atmospheric Radars / Surface Scatter Systems 9.3 and 9.4
10 Nov. Altimetry / Hard-target systems 8.2
13 Nov. Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR) 9.5
15 Nov. Active Optical Systems (Range equation, etc.) 9.1 and handouts
17 Nov. Hardware / R.S. Queries from HW Thanksgiving (23 Nov.)
27 Nov. Elastic Systems / Non-linear Systems handouts
29 Nov. Underwater / Laser Ranging handouts
1 Dec. Laser Ranging 8.1
4 Dec. Additional Methods (e.g., Acoustics) 11.5 and 11.6
6 Dec. Indirect Approaches (e.g., GPS Apps) / Inversion Tech. Projects DUE !!!
8 Dec. Examples / Data Handling / etc. …and then the Final

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, the University’s Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity, respect other students’ dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment by all members of the University community not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others. 

Accommodating Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit Student Disability Resources website.  In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: See documentation guidelines. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. 

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741 

Educational Equity/Reporting Bias

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage.

Document Actions