Encyclopedia of Remote Sensing

2014 Edition
| Editors: Eni G. Njoku

Reflected Solar Radiation Sensors, Polarimetric

  • David J. DinerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-36699-9_157


Stokes measurements


Stokes vector. A set of four parameters describing the polarization state of a beam of light, named for the Irish mathematical physicist George Gabriel Stokes (1819–1903). As an electromagnetic wave propagates, the orientation of the tip of the electric field vector traces out an ellipse. Specific manifestations of the polarization ellipse are linear polarization, where the electric field vibrates in a single plane, and circular polarization. The Stokes vector consists of intensity, I; the excess of horizontally over vertically polarized light, Q; the excess of light polarized at 45° over 135°, U; and the excess of right-handed over left-handed circular polarization, V. “Handedness” describes the direction in which the electric field vector rotates.

Degree of polarization. The ratio of polarized to total intensity is equal to \( \sqrt{{{Q^2}+{U^2}+{V^2}}}/I \)

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The research to prepare this contribution was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA