Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Earth Observation from Space: the Optical View

European Space Agency via FutureLearn

This course may be unavailable.



Earth observation (EO) encompasses a series of techniques that use remote sensing to monitor changes to our climate, and natural and built environment.

Get an introduction to optical Earth observation

This free online course will provide an introduction to optical Earth observation - monitoring our planet from satellites, using photography, imaging in various wavelengths, lidar and other optical sensing technologies.

You’ll find out how satellite data is acquired and used, the range of data types available, and the terminology and techniques involved. The course will also provide detailed case studies of how this data is used in diverse fields, from climate science to humanitarian relief, monitoring of urban change to agriculture, and many other areas.

Learn with ESA - Europe’s Earth observation leader

The course has been developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) - the leading enabler of satellite Earth observation science and technology in Europe.

It will use case studies, real-world applications, and data from ESA and other Earth observation programmes, to help you discover:

  • how we observe and measure the Earth with optical sensors
  • how satellite data is used alongside other forms of measurement
  • the main types of data acquired through Copernicus and other satellites
  • how to conduct simple analysis using a range of different types of optical Earth observation data
  • how optical EO data is used in a range of scientific, policy and decision-making areas, in conjunction with models

Alongside articles and videos, interactive visualisation tools, additional resources and discussions with other learners will provide you with the opportunity to understand Earth observation in depth.

(Animations, data visualisations and imagery from ESA and NASA are provided courtesy of ESA and NASA. This course is produced for ESA by Imperative Space).

This course is designed both for people with some existing knowledge of Earth observation, as well as newcomers to the field. It will demystify the data, and make it easier for non-technical users to interpret and use it in their professional or day-to-day life, and in discourse and debate.

In case you are interested, new enrolments for the ESA Monitoring the Greenland Ice Sheet from Space course will remain open until 11th November 2017, so if you or your friends and colleagues would like to continue your exploration of satellite observation you can sign up here.

Taught by

Martin Wooster


Start your review of Earth Observation from Space: the Optical View

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.