Before You Start- How to Use the Image
Copy and Install the image processing program Irfanview on you
click on each of the images to open the large size version and copy
them to an image folder on your computer
keep your browser open and follow the instruction on how to process
the images - have fun!
Satellite Images can be very useful in providing valuable information.
But the human eye is not very sensitive to subtle changes in brightness
and colour. We can use image processing to overcome this difficulty and to
expose the hidden treasures of information found in satellite images .
Image Processing works because, unlike photographs, the colours in
satellite and digital images are represented by numbers.
The image is made up of little squares called pixels, the more pixels, the
more detailed the image. Each pixel is represented by three numbers
corresponding to the three primary colours.
CLICK ON ANY IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE AND THEN COPY IT TO YOUR COMPUTER
Example One: Studying the rocks on Venus - an example of image
This example uses false colour image processing to bring out hidden
No-one has been able to set foot on Venus to sample the rocks and ages of
To our untrained eye a black and white satellite image taken by a Russian
Satellite many years ago shows little in the way of detail
The featureless surface of Venus gives little indication that the rocks
and craters are of several ages
STEP 1. Open InfanView Program
STEP 2. Open the image venus 1.gif
STEP 3. click on image, choose palette (bottom of menu), click on edit
STEP 4. select the grey square seven squares from the left
STEP 5. double click on this square
STEP 6. choose a bright colour from the choices given ( I chose yellow)
STEP 7. double click in the new colour
STEP 8. click O.K. then click O.K. again
YOUR ENHANCED IMAGE SHOULD LOOK LIKE THE ONE SHOWN BELOW:
Change some more colours...
With each successive colour more detail appears...
Until all the hidden detail is revealed.
This information can then be interpreted by a geologist:
From the final image it would appear that here are three distinct rock
types or ages
each of which appears to be offset by a crack or fault not quite at
to the contacts (boundaries) of the rock groups.
This is common on earth with rocks that are under some tension
Example Two: Hawaii exploring is waters
Mona Loa on the big island of Hawaii is the highest mountain on earth but
we don't think of it that way because the bottom half of it is under
water. It has some of the most diverse climate on the planet ranging from
tropical rainforest around its biggest town Hilo (infamous for being
frequently destroyed by tidal waves) ; to clear sub-arctic conditions at
its summit to desert conditions in its rain shadow.
CHANGING THE IMAGE TO 256 COLOURS
Open the file:Hawaii1.jpg This is a multi-spectral can image of Hawaii in
false colour from Landsat 5 downloaded from a NASA site in Maryland, West
The image is supplied in 16 million colours and you will be instructed how
to quantize it to 256 colours.
The circular feature on the left is the crater of this enormous
Go to Image --> Decrease colour depth --> the program will suggest
the number of colours be reduced to 256--> click O.K.
NOW WE CAN ENHANCE THE IMAGE TO FIND OUR MORE ABOUT THE WATER
Notice the water in this image has been changed to black.
Is there any standing water on the island itself?
The answer is yes but the differences are too subtle and the pixel size
too small for the human eye to detect. Most of the ocean and some of the
volcanic peak appear blue indicating standing water
Go to Image -->Palette Entries (you will have to do this three
First time: Click on the square shown in the top left hand corner
andchange the black to blue
You can now see palces that have cold water - notice the island is
surrounded by cold (deep) water but also that there is a supply of cold
(due to the altitude) water in the crater itself
Second time: Click on the dark square 11 down and 6
from the left and change it to red
This shows warm water. Notice it is a very narrow band around the
island. The ocean becomes very deep very quicklt around the island.
Third time: Click on the dark square 8 from the left in the top
row. Change it to aqua.
This colour shows water in creeks and streams. some of it is partly
obscured by cloud but the enhancement alows you to trace the hidden water
TRY SOME MORE IMAGES:
Finding zones of maximum turbulence in a cyclone
This exercise uses the "Sharpen" feature of image enhancement. It is a
mathematical routine that identifies and slightly darkens edge features.
It is used to bring out outline shapes from blurry of fuzzy images but
must be used with care . Overuse results in the image becomming
Open the image cyclone1.jpg in IrfanView
Use Image-->Sharpen then reduce the colour depth to 16 colours -->
Continue changing colours to see if you can pick up more subtle
changes in the cyclone
TRY SOME ON YOUR OWN: The Pyramids
Some people think the pyramids at Giza in Egypt where made by building,
then removing a giant artificial hill.
Disturbed sand comes up as a lighter colour
Reduce the image of the pyramids to 16 colours .
Look for light regions and consider where would be the most logical place
to put an artificial hill.
Test to see if there is any evidence of a large disturbed area.
Predicting Floods on the Zambeze River in
Reduce the colour depth of the Satellite image of the Zambeze River
to 16 colours.
The file is zambeze_flood1sm.gif
Work on changing the darker colours to black to make the areas
prone to flooding stand out.
Need a hint?
Check your answer against an image of the Zambeze River actually in
Notice that while our image enhancement easily outlines flooding areas on
the delta, cloud cover makes us miss the major tributary on the top right
Remote sensing and satellite imagery must always be followed up with