CubeSats in Hydrology: Ultra-High Resolution Insights into Vegetation Dynamics and Terrestrial Evaporation

Matthew McCabe, Bruno Jose Luis Aragon Solorio, Rasmus Houborg, J. Mascaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Satellite-based remote sensing has generally necessitated a trade-off between spatial resolution and temporal frequency, affecting the capacity to observe fast hydrological processes and rapidly changing land surface conditions. An avenue for overcoming these spatiotemporal restrictions is the concept of using constellations of satellites, as opposed to the mission focus exemplified by the more conventional space-agency approach to earth observation. Referred to as CubeSats, these platforms offer the potential to provide new insights into a range of earth system variables and processes. Their emergence heralds a paradigm shift from single-sensor launches to an operational approach that envisions tens to hundreds of small, lightweight and comparatively inexpensive satellites placed into a range of low earth orbits. Although current systems are largely limited to sensing in the optical portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, we demonstrate the opportunity and potential that CubeSats present the hydrological community via the retrieval of vegetation dynamics and terrestrial evaporation and foreshadow future sensing capabilities.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10017-10024
Number of pages8
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 14 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: Research reported in this publication was supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). We acknowledge the support of the Planet Ambassadors Program that has provided access to Planetscope satellite imagery.


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