Satellites provide a key method for measuring properties of the biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere on global scales. In particular, in recent years the detection and quantification of solar induced fluorescence (SIF) as a means to quantify plant growth and productivity has been a key goal of both NASA’s OCO-2 mission and the proposed European FLEX mission. However, the processes driving SIF are not fully understood.
After a long wait we recently received a shiny new spectrometer to detect the subtle fluorescence given off by plants in sunlight (known as solar induced fluorescence; SIF). We plan to use this spectrometer in conjunction with our LIFT (light induced fluorescence transience) to understand what this SIF signal can tell us about plant photosynthesis and functioning.
However, in order to do this we our spectrometer needed to be calibrated (i.e setup to give meaningful measurements) and we needed to understand the optical properties of the plants we plan to study. This means measuring the amount of light that can pass through and the amount of light reflected from the leaves of the plant being examined. To do this Zbynek and I spent three long days working with an object called an integrating sphere.
Now that our spectrometer is calibrated and we have a better understanding of our experimental plants we look forward to running some exciting experiments.