The United States space program is in the throes of a major shift in emphasis from exploration of the moon and nearby planets to the application of remote sensing technology toward increased scientific understanding and economic exploitation of the earth itself. Over one hundred potential applications have already been identified. Since data from the unmanned Earth Resources Technology Satellites and the manned Earth Resources Observation Satellites are not yet available, the experimentation required to realize the ambitious goals of these projects is carried out through approximation of the expected characteristics of the data by means of images derived from weather satellite vidicon and spin-scan cam-eras, Gemini and Apollo photographs, and the comprehensive sensor complement of the NASA earth resources observation aircraft. The extensive and varied work currently underway is reviewed in terms of the special purpose scan and display equipment and efficient data manipulation routines required for high-resolution images; the essential role of interactive processing; the application of supervised classification methods to crop and timber forecasts, geological exploration, and hydrological surveys; the need for nonsupervised classification techniques for video compaction and for more efficient utilization of ground-control samples; and the outstanding problem of mapping accurately the collected data on a standard coordinate system. An attempt is made to identify among the welter of “promising’’ results areas of tangible achievement as well as likely bottlenecks, and to assess the contribution to be expected of digital image-processing methods in both operational and experimental utilization of the forthcoming torrent of data. Copyright © 1972 by The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.