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DIY Instruments for Amateur Space by Sandy Antunes

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Chapter 3. By Wavelength

The first consideration for a detector is what wavelength of light or what energy quantity you will measure. On Earth, people buying a camera already presume they are taking color pictures and do not think about this. For a space-borne instrument, however, the choice of which color—which wavelength—or which energy regime you are measuring is crucial.

Each wavelength band provides a window onto a different aspect of nature, a different set of physical processes, and a different slice of whatever your target is. Whether looking out (for astronomy, solar, and planetary sensing) or looking down (for Earth observing and surveillance work), the wavelength band you choose will strongly determine what you see.

By analogy, if you ...

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