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Integrated Program / Observational Stratgies/ Strategy 5: Imaging Spectroscopy of Earth's Changing Surface  

 

OBSERVATIONAL STRATEGIES:

IMAGING SPECTROSCOPY OF EARTH'S CHANGING SURFACE

 

 

ASTERThe Earth's surface is the interface between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and the solid Earth and is the interface of greatest importance to humankind. Imaging spectroscopy (or "hyperspectral” imaging) can resolve the surface attributes and expression of many of the processes related to natural and human-induced landscape change, volcanism, tectonics, and ice dynamics. Because near-surface materials and their properties often determine a region's susceptibility to such natural hazards as earthquakes, severe storms, wildfires, and volcanic activity, characterizing these materials will contribute significantly to global hazard mapping.

The power of imaging spectroscopy is the ability for one technique to provide key data to solve a variety of problems, both within and outside of solid-Earth science. These data include ones that are relatively long lasting, such as images of zones of hydrothermally altered rocks or fault zones, and ones that are rapidly changing, such as measurements of soil saturation or airborne dust clouds. High spatial resolution is needed to delineate the persistent, but spatially complex, features of the Earth's surface, whereas high temporal resolution is required to predict, track, and mitigate most natural hazards.

As the field advances and problems become more specific, imaging spectroscopy missions must evolve to meet the diverse requirements of a broad variety of scientific targets. NASA has guided the technique from the laboratory to airborne experiments and finally to space. Future spaceborne missions should focus on meeting science-specific requirements for signal-to-noise ratio, spectral and spatial resolution, and temporal sampling.

Suggested mission phasing and requirements

Immediate (1–5 years): Spaceborne imaging spectrometer in Visible and Near Infrared (0.2 – 2.5 µm). Airborne measurements in the thermal infrared (3 – 5 µm and 8 – 14 µm).

Near Term (5–10 years): Improved spaceborne imaging spectrometer with a 100-km swath and 30-m spatial resolution. Demonstration spaceborne thermal infrared imaging spectrometer with 30-km swath and 30-m spatial resolution. Monthly global mapping across visible to thermal wavelengths with a signal-to-noise ratio > 500.

Long term (10–25 years): Targeted local to regional mapping, with global access, at 1-m resolution across multiple wavelengths. Repeat frequency of hours to years depending on the rate of change of the process being studied.

 

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