To Robert Green, light contains more than meets the eye: it contains fingerprints of materials that can be detected by sensors that capture the unique set of reflected wavelengths. Scientists have used the technique, called imaging spectroscopy, to learn about water on the moon, minerals on Mars and the composition of exoplanets. Green’s favorite place to apply the technique, however, is right here on the chemically rich Earth, which is just what he and colleagues achieved this spring during NASA’s Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI) airborne campaign.
“We have ideas about what makes up Earth’s ecosystems and how they function,” said Green, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who is principal investigator of the campaign’s Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) instrument. “But a comprehensive understanding requires us to directly measure these things and how they change over landscapes and from season to season.” (more…)