Remote Sensing - Imagery in Demining

Aerial Imagery as Part of the GIS Database

Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems are two closely related fields.  A GIS is a very powerful tool that can be used for the storage, retrieval, display, analysis, linkage, and manipulation of spatial data and tabular data.  As technology improves, Remote Sensing is becoming an integral part of this system. The imagery provided by Remote Sensing can be used to update GIS layers and provide a complete spatial coverage of the area of study.  This is important because updated and complete information is necessary to provide an accurate analysis.  On the other hand, the layers in a GIS are also beneficial to the Remote Sensing field because they supply correlative data.  The photo interpreter can use the GIS layers to provide a better analysis of the imagery.

Below is an example of what imagery can do when used for demining purposes. The South- Eastern Europe Mine Action Coordination Coordination Council has used Landsat imagery to show where landmines have been placed. For more information, visit their website at

Image 24: South-Eastern Europe Mine Action Coordination Council (


Applications for Aerial Imagery in Humanitarian Demining Management

Aerial imagery has much to offer to those involved with humanitarian demining management. With the types of political and physical environments faced in demining activities, updated sources of information are crucial. The absence of accurate and current maps often translates into an inability to effectively organize and plan field operations. Aerial imagery can substitute for maps, or be used to update maps. A Geographical Information System (GIS) is a common tool to accomplish this.

Most demining missions are located in developing nations. However, it is difficult to obtain useful land cover and topographic information from these regions. Without the fundamental geographic data for unfamiliar territories, demining event participants are unprepared for travel and logistics within the mine areas. Uninformed personnel traveling these areas are likely to encounter hazardous conditions. Imagine planning any extensive trip to a foreign land without consulting a map. Given these situations, aerial imagery is a vital resource for planning demining activities.

With aerial imagery in hand, managers can efficiently extract the precious information they need to construct maps. From aerial photography, leaders can examine the road ahead and make ready the proper equipment and transportation vehicles.

As you would suspect, buried mines represent the most difficult aspect of mine detection. Therefore, many nations are now employing the use of varying sensors to aid in the search of landmines. A Thermal Infa-Red Scanner is being used by the United States Army as part of the Airborne Standoff Minefield Detection Sysstem, ASTAMIDS. The Thermal Infa-Red Scanner detects mines based on the thermal or heat signature of a particular mine. This system also uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) to acquire accurate ground coordinates for the detected mine. Ground penetrating radar and SAR are commonly used in the detection of landmines.

Hyperspectral systems employ methods to detect where soil has been disturbed, suggesting a place where a mine has been buried. However, Yperspectral systems are subject to the time the mine has been buried in the ground; therefore, it becomes ineffective after a certain period of time in mine detection. Some sensor methods are also subject to the effects of temperature on mine detection. During some parts of the day, mine detection is not possible due to loss of temperature differntial necessary to detect buried mines.

The use of sensor systems is an ever-evolving field of mine detection. The technology is consistently being improved to better suit the needs of deminers.

Image 25: Image of landmine (moddatabase)



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