Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has agreed to collaborate with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on data utilization of Earth Observation Satellites(EOS), and Imai Ryoichi, JAXA Vice President and Daniel Gustafson, FAO’s Deputy Director- General for Programmes have signed the Memorandum of Understanding at JAXA Tsukuba Space Center on January 23, 2020.
Leveraging this cooperation, JAXA and FAO will be monitoring forests and mangroves around the world by JAXA’s satellites with L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR).
Only JAXA has observed forest using L-band radar (SAR) technology from 1992. Observation data of global forests that JAXA has been accumulating for over 25 years will be provided to the System for Earth Observation Data Access, Processing and Analysis for Land Monitoring (SEPAL) that is FAO’s toolkit for monitoring forest and land-use. Additionally, this cooperation supports JAXA to improve the accuracy of its satellite data. http://global.jaxa.jp
A team from Yokohama National University in Japan believes they have developed a method to obtain such a sensor by taking advantage of slow light, an unexpected move in a field where speed is often valued above other variables.
Light detection and ranging also called LiDAR sensors can map the distance between distant objects and more using laser light. In modern LiDAR sensors, many of the systems are composed of a laser source; a photodetector, which converts light into current; and an optical beam steering device, which directs the light into the proper location.
“Currently existing optical beam steering devices all use some kind of mechanics, such as rotary mirrors,” said Toshihiko Baba, paper author and professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Yokohama National University. “This makes the device large and heavy, with limited overall speed and a high cost. It all becomes unstable, particularly in mobile devices, hampering the wide range of applications.”
In recent years, according to Baba, more engineers have turned toward optical phased arrays, which direct the optical beam without mechanical parts. But, Baba warned, such an approach can become complicated due to the sheer number of optical antennae required, as well as the time and precision needed to calibrate each piece.
“In our study, we employed another approach – what we call ‘slow light,’” Baba said.
Baba and his team used a special waveguide “photonic crystal,” aimed through a silicon-etched medium. Light is slowed down and emitted to the free space when forced to interact with the photonic crystal. The researchers engaged a prism lens to then direct the beam in the desired direction.
“The non-mechanical steering is thought to be crucial for LiDAR sensors,” Baba said.
The resulting method and device are smallsized, free of moving mechanics, setting the stage for a solid-state LiDAR. Such a device is considered smaller, cheaper to make and more resilient, especially in mobile applications such as autonomous vehicles. www.spacedaily.com
The Bartolomeo platform from Airbus gives new opportunities for research on the International Space Station (ISS). The European Space Agency ESA has now firmly booked a payload slot for a Norwegian instrument to monitor plasma density in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The Bartolomeo platform – named after Christopher Columbus’ younger brother – is currently in the final stage of launch preparation at Airbus in Bremen and is scheduled for launch to the ISS in March 2020. Bartolomeo is developed on a commercial basis by Airbus using its own investment funds and will be operated in cooperation with ESA.
The platform can accommodate up to 12 different experiment modules, supplying them with power and providing data transmission to Earth. It is suitable for many different experiments. Due to the unique position of the platform with a direct view of Earth from 400 kilometres, Earth observation including trace gas measurements or CO2 monitoring of the atmosphere are possible, with data useful for climate protection or for use by private data service providers.
The Multi-Needle Langmuir Probe (m-NLP) is an instrument from the University of Oslo and the Norwegian company Eidsvoll Electronics to measure ionospheric plasma densities. With its relatively low orbit, the ISS passes near the peak plasma density of the ionosphere. The m-NLP is currently the only instrument in the world capable of resolving ionospheric plasma density variations at spatial scales below one metre. It will gather valuable data from the equatorial and mid-latitude ionosphere, enabling study of the dynamic processes in this region in unprecedented detail. The Langmuir Probe will map plasma characteristics around the globe. www.airbus.com Shoreline mapping contract for Quantum Spatial
NV5 Global, Inc. a provider of professional and technical engineering and consulting solutions, has announced that Quantum Spatial, Inc. (“Quantum Spatial”), an NV5 company, has been selected as prime contractor under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Shoreline Mapping contract. The $18.8 million contract to perform shoreline mapping services includes the collection and processing of topographic and bathymetric LiDAR data and aerial imagery and covers the North Carolina Coast, the Florida Panhandle, Guam, and portions of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. www.NV5.com