Tricorders & Sensors

Spectropolarimetry Of Life: Airborne Measurements From A Hot Air Balloon

By Keith Cowing
astro-ph.EP
August 4, 2022
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Spectropolarimetry Of Life: Airborne Measurements From A Hot Air Balloon
[from top to bottom] 600 × 600 pixel cut-out of four polarization camera images of (i) the Murtensee and its coast, (ii) a distant mountain top, (iii) the Murtensee featuring a glint and (iv) an urban landscape. [from left to right] Intensity image, DoLP and AoLP, see Equation 1, per image.

Does life exist outside our Solar System? A first step towards searching for life outside our Solar System is detecting life on Earth by using remote sensing applications.

Does life exist outside our Solar System? A first step towards searching for life outside our Solar System is detecting life on Earth by using remote sensing applications.

One powerful and unambiguous biosignature is the circular polarization resulting from the homochirality of biotic molecules and systems. We aim to investigate the possibility of identifying and characterizing life on Earth by using airborne spectropolarimetric observations from a hot air balloon during our field campaign in Switzerland, May 2022.

In this work we present the optical-setup and the data obtained from aerial circular spectropolarimetric measurements of farmland, forests, lakes and urban sites. We make use of the well-calibrated FlyPol instrument that measures the fractionally induced circular polarization (V/I) of (reflected) light with a sensitivity of <10−4. The instrument operates in the visible spectrum, ranging from 400 to 900 nm. We demonstrate the possibility to distinguish biotic from abiotic features using circular polarization spectra and additional broadband linear polarization information. We review the performance of our optical-setup and discuss potential improvements. This sets the requirements on how to perform future airborne spectropolarimetric measurements of the Earth’s surface features from several elevations. Willeke Mulder, C.H. Lucas Patty, Stefano Spadaccia, Antoine Pommerol, Brice-Olivier Demory, Christoph U. Keller, Jonas G. Kühn, Frans Snik, Daphne M. Stam Comments: 13 pages, 10 figures, to be submitted in SPIE Proceedings 12214-4
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2208.02317 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2208.02317v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2208.02317
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Submission history
From: Willeke Mulder
[v1] Wed, 3 Aug 2022 19:22:56 UTC (13,658 KB)
https://arxiv.org/abs/2208.02317
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