ECE MeetUp: Remote Sensing and the ElectroScience Lab

Posted: January 31, 2019

At The Ohio State University, the push is on to create a more social environment around science and technology. 

In this effort, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) held its latest MeetUp event on Jan. 29 to showcase the ElectroScience Lab and its ties to Earth remote sensing research.

Meetup events have a more social environment including alumni families, students, interested industry friends, staff and faculty, coupled with discussions on the latest technological breakthroughs at Ohio State.

As the new ESL Director, Richard Ridgway discussed his future plans for the center, and ECE Professor Joel Johnson explained his work in Earth remote sensing.

Richard Ridgway
Ridgway said he would like to further ESL collaborative efforts, whether by encouraging faculty to combine research goals, or finding new project opportunities with organizations such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

ESL is unique, Ridgway said, in that it merges the efforts of faculty, research faculty, and research scientists, enabling the laboratory to take on large scale projects. There are currently 86 graduate students, nine undergraduate students on board as well. 

“We have one of the largest electromagnetic programs and electromagnetic graduate student populations in the country,” Ridgway said.

In terms of remote sensing research, Johnson spoke about his work on Ohio State’s first satellite. The CubeSat Radiometer Radio Frequency Interference Technology Validation satellite, or CubeRRT, contains advanced sensors for observing Earth’s environment from space. 

Joel Johnson
The world naturally emits microwave radiation, Johnson said, which scientists study with sensors called microwave radiometers. The data from these sensors helps determine important information like soil moisture, sea temperature, sea ice coverage, weather, and much more.

However, he said, as the need for wireless services worldwide continues to increase, the growth of manmade radio transmissions is making it increasingly difficult for scientists to detect Earth’s natural microwave radiation. The unwanted man-made signals are called radio frequency interference, or RFI. 

CubeRRT’s goal was to demonstrate a new capability of onboard RFI removal from the measurements recorded by Earth-observing microwave radiometers. 

That goal, Johnson said, was successfully met after CubeRRT was launched into orbit on May 21, 2018, deployed from the International Space Station in July, and subsequently collected over 100 hours of data proving its effectiveness.


“The results from CubeRRT are definitely important for future Earth observing microwave radiometer missions,” Johnson said. 

Other other remote sensing projects involving his team, include the remote sensing of sea ice thickness, ice sheet temperatures in Greenland and Antarctica, as well as studying soil moisture and flooding patterns from space. 

To learn more about the ECE Department’s ongoing MeetUp series or to join the group, head here online: