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Although not primarily designed to collect geotechnical information, three U.S. Government remote sensing programs are providing significant new data of substantial geotechnical value. The programs are the National High-Altitude Photography (NHAP) Program and the Side-Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR) Program, both administered by the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Mapping Division, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Shuttle Imaging Radar (SIR) Program. NHAP and SLAR data collection are parts of the USGS's continuing efforts to provide coverage of the United States for mapping and geological interpretation. SIR data were collected by NASA from the Shuttle in 1981 and 1984 on two experimental missions designed to further our understanding of the radar signatures of geological features. Collectively, these data represent a new and powerful tool for use by practitioners to provide new insights into qualitative geotechnical evaluations. Among the many uses of these data are regional structural interpretation, delineation of drainage characteristics, evaluation of surface wetness characteristics, and assessment of rock and soil surface texture and grain size. Use of these data can assist in the preparation of inexpensive regional analyses that can be used for the planning and execution of detailed site-specific studies.
remote sensing, radar, aerial photography, geotechnical remote sensing
Supervisory physical scientist, U.S. Geological SurveyNational Academy of Sciences, RestonWashington, VADC