NGA, SLU kick off Geospatial 101 series with talk on remote sensing
By Jessica Daues, NGA Office of Corporate Communications

Remote sensing – the ability for scientists to record information on objects they are not in physical contact with – is a branch of geospatial science that can help solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, said NGA image scientist Laura Santos during a Geospatial 101 session at Saint Louis University Feb. 4.

This discussion was part of the Geospatial 101 series, co-hosted by SLU and NGA, which aims to raise awareness of geospatial science in the local community, said Mark Barnett, outreach officer with NGA.

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Laura Santos, senior image scientist at NGA, talks about remote sensing during a Geospatial 101 presentation at SLU Feb. ​​4. Photo by Jessica Daues, NGA Office of Corporate Communications.

​​Santos partnered with Vasit Sagan, associate professor in SLU’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, to give an overview of the science behind remote sensing. The two discussed how remote sensing can be used to inform researchers and decision makers on topics such as deforestation, food security and power grid vulnerabilities.

“We can leverage systems that allow us to record and visualize information about our world from above, where our viewpoint is larger,” said Santos. “But more importantly, remote sensing allows us to see beyond what we can detect with our eyes, allowing us to take a deceptively simple image and unpack it to reveal hidden information.”

About 60 people attended the event, which included a question-and-answer session with Santos and Sagan.

Three additional Geospatial 101 sessions are planned for February and March. All sessions are from 5-6 p.m. at SLU’s Salus Center, 3545 Lafayette Ave, St. Louis, MO 63104. The series is free and open to the public.  

The schedule:

Monday, March 4: Mapping Health -- Where Disease Happens

Monday, March 18: How Humans and Machines Work Together

The Geospatial 101 series developed as a collaboration between SLU and NGA, said Ken Olliff, SLU’s vice president for research. SLU is currently working to create a geospatial research, training and innovation institute.

“Many in the community might not know a whole lot about what geospatial science actually is,” said Olliff. “We thought of this as a way of getting the word out, and offering the public a chance to hear more about the research, activities and innovation going on at SLU, NGA and the geospatial community, and to answer their questions.”

Barnett said NGA’s participation in Geospatial 101 was inspired by former Director Robert Cardillo’s call to be more transparent and work more clearly with the academic, commercial and local communities. “NGA is in a unique position to help partner with others and share our expertise," he said.

To RSVP and for more information about the location and parking, visit and search for “Geospatial 101.”


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