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The extensive mapping of vegetation and its condition form key elements of programmes aimed at the development of national and international food policies. Whilst ongoing research studies the more detailed biophysical processes.

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Glowing plants a sign of health

12 February 2014

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Radiant skin is considered a sign of good health in humans, but plants also glow when they are well. A potential new ESA satellite could use this fluorescence to track the health and productivity of vegetation worldwide.

The Florescence Explorer, or FLEX for short, is a candidate for ESA's eighth Earth Explorer. It aims to provide global maps of vegetation fluorescence, which can be used to work out actual photosynthetic activity.

This information would improve our understanding of the way carbon moves between plants and the atmosphere and how it affects the carbon and water cycles.

In addition, by offering new information that can be used to improve the management of water and fertilisers, FLEX could also improve agricultural productivity.

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