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Concept of a satellite cross-calibration radiometer for in-orbit calibration of commercial optical satellites

April 10, 2024

The satellite Earth observation (EO) sector is burgeoning with hundreds of commercial satellites being launched each year, delivering a rich source of data that could be exploited for societal benefit. Data streams from the growing number of commercial satellites are of variable quality, limiting the potential for their combined use in science applications that need long time-series data from multiple sources. The quality of calibration performed on optical sensors onboard many satellite systems is highly variable due to calibration methods, sensor design, mission objective, budget, or other operational constraints. A small number of currently operating well-characterised satellite systems with onboard calibration, such as Landsat-8/9 and Sentinel-2, and planned future missions, like the NASA Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder, the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial and Helio Studies (TRUTHS), and LIBRA from China, are considered benchmarks for optical data quality due to their traceability to international measurement standards. This paper describes the concept of a space-based transfer calibration radiometer called the Satellite Cross-Calibration Radiometer (SCR) that would enable the calibration parameters from satellites such as Landsat-8/9, Sentinel-2, or other benchmark systems to be transferred to a range of commercial optical EO satellite systems while in orbit. A description of the key characteristics of the SCR to successfully operate in orbit and transfer calibration from reference systems to client systems is presented. A system like the SCR in orbit could complement SI-Traceable satellites (SITSats) to improve data quality and consistency and facilitate the interoperable use of data from multiple optical sensor systems for delivering higher returns on the global investment in EO.

Publication Year 2024
Title Concept of a satellite cross-calibration radiometer for in-orbit calibration of commercial optical satellites
DOI 10.3390/rs16081333
Authors Medhavy Thankappan, Jon Christopherson, Simon John Cantrell, Robert Ryan, Mary Pagnutti, Courtney Bright, Denis Naughton, Kathryn Lynn Ruslander, Lan-Wei Wang, David Hudson, Jerad Shaw, Shankar N. Ramaseri Chandra, Cody Anderson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Remote Sensing
Index ID 70254548
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center