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Panchromatic Imagery

  • By: Timothy A. Warner
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Analog and digital sensors that acquire data from a single broad region of visible light, and sometimes from the adjacent near-infrared and ultraviolet regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, are commonly given the label panchromatic. The name was originally given to black-and-white photographic films that were sensitive to ultraviolet and the entire visible spectrum (pan, meaning “all,” and chromatic, meaning “colors”; both words are of Greek origin), to distinguish them from earlier black-and-white films that were only sensitive to ultraviolet and blue light. Panchromatic film was used extensively for aerial photography. In the era of digital electronic sensors, the term panchromatic has been retained for single-band images that represent information from a broad spectral region but not necessarily from all visible wavelengths. Panchromatic satellite images typically ...

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