In a paper published in EPJ Plus, Stefano Bagnulo from Armagh Observatory and Planetarium in Northern Ireland, UK, and colleagues review the state-of-theart in polarimetry for studying the small bodies in our solar system. Combined with other observational techniques, such as thermal radiometry and visible photometry, polarimetry may be used as a remote sensing technique to measure asteroids’ size, to reveal the composition and size variation of dust in comets or of aerosols in planetary atmospheres, to study the surface structure of asteroids, or even to detect extra-terrestrial biomarkers.
So how does polarimetry work? The way light is polarised depends on the nature of the scattering surface, and the measured polarisation changes when the object is observed from different angles. Imagine that radiation hits an electron on a surface. That electron begins oscillating, and becomes more inclined to move in a direction parallel to the surface than to penetrate it. Therefore, the reflected light presents an excess of photons oscillating in the direction parallel to the surface, making the reflected light polarised. In this way, measuring polarisation can yield pertinent information on objects in the solar system. By combining it with other techniques, scientists can make important advances in the physical characterisation of these small bodies. www.eurekalert.org
The Union ministry of agriculture, India has mapped 185 districts under a project using remote sensing technology to identify areas best suited for seven different fruits and vegetables across the country, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said.
The first report, for eight states in the North East, will be ready in December and will be given to the state governments in January, Singh told reporters after a presentation on the project known as CHAMAN or Coordinated Horticulture Assessment and Management using geoinformatics. www.hindustantimes.com
SpaceX launches Taiwan’s first home-built satellite
SpaceX has launched the first satellite designed and built entirely in Taiwan, a spacecraft that aims to boost disaster forecasts and mapping, environmental observation and space research. The satellite, called FORMOSAT-5, weighs nearly 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) is designed to operate for five years, and will orbit the Earth once every 100 minutes. Its predecessor, FORMOSAT-2, was decommissioned last year after 12 years, a lifespan in which it mapped a series of major disasters in parts of Asia and Africa. https://phys.org
China has launched Venezuela’s second remote sensing satellite, five years after helping the South American nation with its first satellite. The VRSS-2 satellite was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi desert using a Long March 2D carrier rocket. It is the third satellite to be jointly launched by China and Venezuela. www.newindianexpress.com
Pakistan’s first optical remote sensing satellite PRSS-1 would be launched in 2018, the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) announced. www.geo.tv
ISRO to establish a research facility in Guwahati
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will establish research facility in Guwahati, the largest city in the North East Indian state of Assam. The research facility will explore the possibility of using geospatial technology, including data generated through GPS, GIS and satellite remote sensing for fast paced development of Assam.