Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object and thus in contrast to in situ observation. In modern usage, the term generally refers to the use of aerial sensor technologies to detect and classify objects on Earth (both on the surface, and in the atmosphere and oceans) by means of propagated signals (e.g. electromagnetic radiation). It may be split into active remote sensing (when a signal is first emitted from aircraft or satellites) or passive (e.g. sunlight) when information is merely recorded.