NASA 1996 SBIR Phase I


PROPOSAL NUMBER : 96-1 13.06-2678

PROJECT TITLE : Portable, dual-wavelength, laser polarization profiler for remote sensing

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

The depolarization characteristics of light scattered from vegetation and leaf surfaces contain important information about its identity, health, physiological status and development stage of the canopy, and can be potentially related to botanical variables such as leaf age, plant water status, and temperature regime. A majority of previous research to exploit depolarization signatures from vegetation have employed solar radiation as the light source or probe. These previous methods are fraught with ambiguities primarily due to atmospheric and viewing-angle effects which distort the incident and scattered polarization. To overcome these difficulties, we propose a hand-held, portable, battery-powered instrument employing two laser diode light sources (visible and near-IR), a two-channel polarization detector , video and data processing electronics, for direct measurement of the depolarization of terrestrial targets including vegetation. The optics would be designed for variable focus (10-40 feet target distance), variable divergence (+-30 deg) and capable of up to 200 laser shots on a single battery. The proposed system would also be able to provide vegetation index measurements. The Phase I research will establish feasibility of various optical, laser and detector, and electronic subsystems leading to the construction, testing and delivery to NASA of a hand-held prototype device in Phase II.
POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS
Successful completion of Phase I and II will provide NASA with a research instrument that we can also market for use in agricultural studies. The research is designed to support rapid Phase III development of a simplified, inexpensive device to be marketed directly to the farming industry. This new instrument would allow farmers to remotely query the health of their crops and could lead to advances in agriculture productivity and farming practices.
NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR
Dr. Shankar Krishnan,
Containerless Research, Inc.,
906 University Place,
Evanston, IL, 60201
NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR