Lunar Calibration ROLO (Robotic Lunar Observatory)

Science Center Objects

The USGS lunar calibration program provides radiometric calibration and sensor stability monitoring for space-based remote sensing instruments using the Moon as a reference source. This is a unique on-orbit calibration technique for solar reflectance wavelengths that requires no special flight hardware, only that the instrument must view the Moon. The unmatched stability of the lunar surface reflectance (better than one part in 108 per year[1]) makes the Moon attractive as a calibration light source; its radiance can be known with high precision and accuracy. The lunar irradiance is similar in brightness to sunlit land masses on the Earth. 

Currently the USGS lunar calibration program is funded by NASA for use with the EOS suite of instruments, although other instruments can and have been accommodated through special agreement with NASA. However, the lunar calibration technique is applicable to all solar band sensors that view the Moon. On-orbit sensor response trending with sub-percent per year precision has been achieved using this technique. Lunar calibration has the capability to meet satellite instrument long-term stability requirements for measuring climate change (NISTIR 7047 (PDF, 3.9mb)).


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