It’s not a caffeinated ghost, but this EarthWord is nearly as trippy...
USGS EarthWord of the Week
EarthWords is an on-going series in which we shed some light on the complicated, often difficult-to-pronounce language of science. Think of us as your terminology tour-guides, and meet us back here every week for a new word!
The EarthWord: Hyperspectral
Instead of a caffeinated ghost, hyperspectral refers to something nearly as trippy. It’s a tool that shines light on surfaces and measures the reflection across multiple bands. Not only does it measure visible light, but it also measures bands of light beyond the visible like infrared.
Hyperspectral has two parts: hyper, which comes from the Greek hyper, meaning “over,” or “beyond;” and spectral, which comes from the Latin spectrum, which means “image” or “apparition.”
Use/Significance in the Earth Science Community:
Hyperspectral sensors measure light reflected from the earth. The spectrum of the reflected light can be interpreted to identify the composition of materials at the surface, such as minerals, man-made materials, snow, and vegetation. These materials can be identified remotely due to their unique light spectra. In addition, these data allow large geographic areas to be mapped quickly and accurately, showing mineral resources, natural hazards, agricultural conditions and infrastructure development.
USGS primarily uses hyperspectral imaging to aid in mineral research. The primary places USGS has used hyperspectral imaging to study minerals are Alaska and Afghanistan.
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