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Remote Sensing Technicians

The Job

Remote sensing technicians help remote sensing scientists in collecting and analyzing data from photographs. They contribute to projects that are involved in such areas as natural resources, urban planning, or homeland security. Technicians work closely with scientists, surveyors, cartographers, engineers, and other team members to determine the type of data that is required for the project. They then prepare and develop flight plans and the sensor configurations for flight trips. 

Technicians use various remote sensing technologies and systems to capture images, such as aerial photography, digital satellites, light and radio wave detection systems, and thermal energy systems. After the images have been acquired, technicians verify the accuracy and integrity of the data in the images. They use software programs to modify the images to highlight the areas that pertain to the project, to assist in forming conclusions and making recommendations. For instance, remote sensing technicians often work on geographical assessment projects to help developers determine if the land is suitable for a building site. The technicians' may make recommendations to developers based on their review and analysis of the remotely sensed images.

Other tasks that remote sensing technicians usually have include participating in the planning and development of projects for mapping specific regions and locations, calibrating the equipment used to collect data, developing and maintaining databases of geospatial information, maintaining survey data records, and operating airborne remote sensing equipment such as survey cameras, sensors, or scanners. Remote sensing technicians may work closely with agricultural workers, helping in the application of remote sensing techniques and information to reduce negative environmental effects on farming. 

Remote sensing technicians are technologically savvy. Strong knowledge of a variety of software programs is required for this job. They use analytical or scientific software such as laser imaging detection and ranging (commonly called LIDAR) system; SAS, and The Mathworks MATLAB; computer-aided design software such as Autodesk AutoCAD and Bentley Microstation; database user interface and query software like ESRI ArcCatalog and Mircrosoft Access; map creation software, including Applied Imagery Quick Terrain Modeler and ESRI ArcGIS software; as well as object- or component-oriented development software such as Python and R.