Remote Sensing Theory for Earth Science

Funding Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Remote sensing science to establish a theoretical basis for measuring Earth surface properties using reflected, emitted, and scattered electromagnetic radiation and to develop the methodologies and technical approaches to analyze and interpret such measurements lies at the heart of NASA’s mission. Remote sensing science investigations are needed to prepare for new remote sensing measurements of the Earth from space and to ascertain the readiness of candidate technologies for obtaining them. The objective of the Remote Sensing Theory (RST) program element, a multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary program, is to enable major steps in algorithm and future technology development that will ultimately lead to significant advances in remote sensing Earth observing. The program will support fundamental scientific, nonincremental advances in remote sensing theory and radiative transfer, including advancement of retrieval algorithms to be used for space-based remote sensing of the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, biosphere, cryosphere, land surface, and/or Earth interior.  

Recent theoretical developments in physics, chemistry, math, and other basic science may be integrated and/or applied to space-based Earth remote sensing. The incorporation of methodologies and techniques developed in other scientific areas, and/or new or novel application of approaches that can be applied to Earth remote sensing is a particular emphasis of this program. Research to be supported under this program element is expected to address the strengths and weaknesses of the approaches studied by quantifying the associated errors and uncertainties. Validation of proposed theoretical approaches should be outlined and, where feasible based on availability of relevant data (e.g., from airborne instruments), should be included in the proposed activities; proposals with such validation included will receive programmatic preference over those that do not include the use of available data. 

In rare situations, very limited program funds may be made available for one-time acquisition of data that could be used for validation of proposed approaches based on use of airborne sensors supported by the Earth Science Division. Proposers including such data acquisition in their proposals should follow the procedures outlined in the Airborne Science section (4.5) of A.1 The Earth Science Research Overview. Such funds would typically be used to pay for a small number of flight hours which could be obtained in conjunction with an already planned flight (or set of flights) of the relevant sensor/platform combination. Remote deployments specific to acquisition of such data will not be supported under this element, and any proposal that includes such acquisition will be considered as non-response and returned to the proposer without review. 


  • Notice of Intent: July 15, 2024
  • Proposal: Sep. 16, 2024




Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

September 16, 2024