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Hyperspectral narrowband data propel gigantic leap in the earth remote sensing

June 23, 2021

Hyperspectral narrowbands (HNBs) capture data as nearly continuous “spectral signatures” rather than a “few spectral data points” along the electromagnetic spectrum as with multispectral
broadbands (MBBs). Almost all of satellite remote sensing of the Earth in the twentieth century was conducted using MBB data from sensors such as the Landsat-series, Advanced Very High-Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), SPOT (Système Pour l’Observation de la Terre), and the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites. These systems typically provide 4 to 9 broad spectral wavebands spread from 400 to 2500 nm, often with one or two additional bands in the thermal range. Significant advances in the study of the Earth have been made based on these data [Thenkabail et al., 2018a,b,c,d; Thenkabail et al., 2015a,b,c]. Possibilities of great advances that can be made using HNB data over MBB data are well established based on studies conducted using hyperspectral sensors such as the hand-held spectroradiometers, the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS), and spaceborne Earth Observing -1 (EO-1) Hyperion [Thenkabail 2018a,b,c,d]. The twenty-first century is already seeing the dawn of hyperspectral imaging data from sensors such as the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR’s) DESIS (DLR Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer) onboard the MUSES (Multi-User System for Earth Sensing) platform on the International Space Station (ISS), the polar-orbiting Italian Space
Agency’s (ASI) PRISMA (PRecursore IperSpettrale della Missione Applicativa), and many other upcoming sensors such as the NASA Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) [Thenkabail et
al., 2018a,b,c,d]. These satellites acquire data in hundreds of narrow spectral bands of 1 to 10 nm width, typically between 400 to 2500 nm; also future planned missions will be extending
HNBs to the thermal (9,000 to 14,000 nm) electromagnetic spectrum. This expansion creates a quantum leap in new data, new information, and myriad possible new applications in the study of the Earth in addition to great advances in existing applications.

Given the above, the objective of this article is to provide insights on the gigantic leap in our understanding, modeling, mapping, and monitoring of the Earth that can be made using HNB relative to MBB by focusing on agricultural and vegetation applications. We will address this in four aspects:
1. Comparison between HNB and MBB data;
2. Spectral libraries of agricultural crops;
3. HNB data analysis in general; and
4. HNB analysis using machine learning (ML) and
cloud computing.