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The solar system is full of various small bodies such as planetary moons, main belt asteroids, Jupiter Trojans, Centaurs, trans-Neptunian objects and comets. To study them, scientists typically analyse the radiation they reflect, which is referred to as polarimetry. Scientists not only focus on the intensity of the scattered radiation, but also on how photons oscillate in the plane perpendicular to their direction of propagation - that is, their polarisation. Combining these two aspects yields significantly better descriptions than data obtained from the intensity alone.
In a paper published in EPJ Plus, Stefano Bagnulo from Armagh Observatory and Planetarium in Northern Ireland, UK, and colleagues review the state-of-the-art in polarimetry for studying the small bodies in our solar system.
Techniques - Radiometry - Photometry - Polarimetry - Sensing
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...
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