What is it?
Panchromatic refers to black and white imagery exposed by all visible light. However, panchromatic photography and
digital imagery is often acquired using a minus blue filter to reduce the scattering that occurs in those blue
Panchromatic data is usually seen in one of two formats; aerial photography or high spatial resolution digital satellite
imagery. Panchromatic black-and-white aerial photos are often used in stereo (a technique by which landforms are rendered
three-dimensional using overlapping photos and stereoscope instruments) for geologic and topographic mapping. A panchromatic
aerial photo is shown below.
Dataset: Black and white aerial photography of Papua New Guinea Image credit: Crustal Imaging Group, UCSC
Characteristics: scale of 1:100,000; north is up
Processing Shown: none, simple panchromatic grey-scale image
Notes: The photo is of the southern shoreline of the Huon Peninsula in Northeastern Papua New Guinea. The Buso river can be seen centrally, dumping sediments into the Huon Gulf. The scale of this imagery is quite coarse, and is clearly not what is standard and possible today. However, it was some of the only imagery available for PNG before the satellite era.
Panchromatic satellite imagery
Satellite-acquired panchromatic imagery is usually acquired concurrently with other spectral information. It is often of a finer spatial resolution than the other data acquired, and is used to sharpen or increase the resolution of coarser resolution imagery. Panchromatic satellite data is also used on its own for various geological, biological, and engineering surveys and mapping endeavours. Such satellite data is shown below.
Dataset: Landsat ETM+ Image Credit: USGS/UCSC
Characteristics: The multispectral image on the left has a 30m pixel size; the panchromatic image on the right has a 15m pixel size
Processing Shown: The image on the left is a true color RGB subset of a larger Landsat image, while the image on the right is panchromatic subset of the same region
Notes: The images above show a small volcanic crater called Panum Crater in the eastern Sierra. Note how much more pixelated the color image is compared to the panchromatic image. The panchromatic image could be used to "sharpen" the coarser 30 m true color image if need be.
Prepared by: Brigette Martini, UCSC
Landsat, IKONOS, SPOT , aerial photo, etc.
• Radiation and Matter
• Spectral Signatures
• True Color RGB
• Accuracy Assessment/Field Validation