Aerial photographs and digital images from orbiting optical scanners are a daily source of information for the general public through newspapers, television, magazines, and posters. Such images are just as prevalent in scientific journal literature. In the last 6 months, more than half of the weekly issues of Eos published an image acquired by a remote digital sensor. As a result, most geoscientists are familiar with the characteristics and even the acronyms of the current satellites and their optical sensors, common detector filters, and image presentation. In many cases, this familiarity has bred contempt. This is so because the limitations of optical sensors (imaging in the visible and infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum) can be quite formidable. Images of the surface cannot be acquired through clouds, and image quality is impaired with low-light conditions (such as at polar regions), atmospheric scattering and absorption, and variations in sun/sensor/surface geometry.