False Image Remote Sensing

By Derek Geise


Remote sensing can be a very valuable and fun tool to demonstrate historically changing landscapes as well as demonstrating where to farm, live, play, and to monitor land use practices. Arial photography provides a very different way to see our surroundings. False image aerial photography is a very widely used tool to remote sensing scientists. The Conservation and Survey Division at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has an outstanding resource of false image aerial photographs of various towns and cities across Nebraska available for sale at a very minimal cost.


The activity will use aerial photography false imagery to get high school students aquatinted with remote sensing.


A false image remote sensing poster of your town or a town that is near you or well known by you and your students. Copies of these can be obtained from the Conservation and Survey Division at a minimal cost.


This is a relatively simple activity. It is intended to get you and your students aquatinted with remote sensing.

  1. Get students into groups of four.
  2. Distribute maps of your town or a nearby town.
  3. Have students look over maps and try to pick out landmarks that they know.
  4. Have students find the following items:
    1. the school you are in
    2. any parks
    3. golf coarse
    4. rivers or streams that are near by
    5. center pivots
    6. fields that are currently not planted
    7. bodies of water in the area
    8. major streets or highways
    9. airport
    10. students approximate home area
    11. major businesses

NOTE: all vegetative green areas will appear red on these false color images. Two color patterns dominate the land classes: reds, depicting vegetation, and medium grayish-browns, found mainly along the bright sun-facing slopes. Water is shown in deep blues that, in shallow areas become a bit lighter where thicker sediments add reflectance. Areas believed to be barren of vegetation to varying degrees have darker gray-brown tones but may have faint pink overtones implying limited vegetation cover.