Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (RSSS) is a broad discipline examining the interaction of electromagnetic fields with material media, concentrating on applications to the space sciences. It encompasses research areas such as aeronomy, geosciences, atmospheric science, remote sensing, wave propagation, electro-optics, plasma science, signal processing, and communications. RSSS researchers develop and use a variety of radio and optical techniques to probe the Earth's upper atmosphere to learn its physical, chemical, and dynamic processes. These techniques include lidar, optical imaging, interferometric, MF (medium frequency) radar, meteor radar, the global positioning system (GPS) and incoherent backscatter radar.
The RSSS group at the University of Illinois carries out a wide range of theoretical and experimental programs around the world involving lidar systems, laser ranging and altimetry, optical communications, geophysical imaging, and signal and image processing. Two advanced lidar systems use atmospheric sodium and iron as scattering media from metals deposited by meteors in the upper atmosphere. Optical imaging, spectroscopy, and interferometry are employed to passively observe atmospheric emission and scattering processes. Rocket and CubeSat platforms are used to directly probe these regions of the near-space environment. Field campaigns include the use of spacecraft and aircraft platforms as well as a number of ground stations, such as Antarctica, Greenland, Kwajalein (Marshall Islands), Peru, Chile, Australia, Puerto Rico, and US sites in Urbana, IL, New Mexico and Hawaii.