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Topic: NASA OCO-2

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3) will study plant growth

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA says when plants take in too much energy, they don’t get fat – they lighten up. They absorb more sunlight than they need to power photosynthesis, and they get rid of the excess solar energy by emitting it as a very faint glow.

The light is far too dim for us to notice under normal circumstances, but it can be measured with a spectrometer. Called solar-induced fluorescence (SIF), it’s the most accurate signal of photosynthesis that can be observed from space.

That’s important because, as Earth’s climate changes, growing seasons worldwide are also changing in both timing and length.

This honeysuckle is glowing in response to a high-energy ultraviolet light rather than to the Sun, but its shine is similar to the solar-induced fluorescence that OCO-3 will measure. (©Craig P. Burrows)

This honeysuckle is glowing in response to a high-energy ultraviolet light rather than to the Sun, but its shine is similar to the solar-induced fluorescence that OCO-3 will measure. (©Craig P. Burrows)

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