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Surface Composition: It’s all in how you look at it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Deborah Domingue

The study of reflectance variations as a function of wavelength (spectroscopy) is the quest for understanding composition. Combining spectral studies of laboratory samples with spectral remote sensing observations of planetary surfaces provides insight into the geochemistry and petrology of planetary crustal formation and regolith evolution. However, these quests are strongly affected by the viewer’s perspective. The study of reflectance variations as a function of viewing geometry (photometry) is the quest for understanding the physical nature of the reflecting medium. Understanding the effects of incidence, emission, and phase on reflectance properties is essential to interpreting spectral variations. With the help of measurements acquired by RELAB at Brown University and DLR’s German Aerospace Center’s Experimental Physics Group, the spectro-photometric effects on minerals relevant to Mercury’s surface are examined.

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