Space ultraviolet optical remote sensing is a preponderant field besides visible light, near infrared, thermal infrared and microwave remote sensing technologies. Now, research on change of global circumstances by space ultraviolet and vacuum ultraviolet optical remote sensing technique is a hot topic in the world. In this paper, the function, status and development of space ultraviolet optical remote sensing are reviewed, and the characteristics and performance parameters of several kinds of space UV remote sensing instruments are introduced. Finally, it indicates that the key points for UV remote sensing at present are applications of the space borne ultraviolet optical remote sensing instruments, accumulations of space detection data, and establishment of reversion algorithm. This paper suggests that the objectives of the UV optical remote sensing in future are to develop the instruments with nadir, limb and obscuration function synchronously, detect the threedimensional ozone in high accuracy, all weather and whole atmosphere, monitor the change and changing trend of atmospheric components in real time, and to expand the application scopes for space ultraviolet remote sensing instruments.