A history of satellite-based remote sensing in Australia 1971-1989

This research describes the early history of satellite-based remote sensing in Australia.  It focuses on the period 1971 to 1988, a timeframe which encompasses the establishment of the Australian Committee for (the) Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ACERTS), the acquisition of the first satellite images, the move to reliance on digital data, the lobbying for and building of the Australian Landsat Station (ALS), the huge growth in the applications of satellite data and the lobbying for, pilot and eventual completion of the first major upgrade of ALS.

Information is drawn primarily from interviews with surviving key participants with additional material coming from existing documentation and archival material.

For the purpose of this research, remote sensing is taken to mean the collection of data about the earth’s surface from satellite-based sensors. It excludes both meteorological systems and airborne instruments.

At the time this research was commissioned, the history of remote sensing in Australia was scattered among the formal reports of the various organisations responsible for, or interested in, the field and summaries of  the state of remote sensing in Australia at various times. There was some biographical material about the most outstanding figures and a  section on remote sensing in a book about Australia’s involvement in the Space program. This thesis therefore draws together elements of the history of remote sensing in Australia into a single, integrated narrative.
The project was co-supervised by Professor John Richards, of the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Sciences.