Accuracy assessment for the radiometric calibration of imaging sensors using preflight techniques relying on the sun as a source

K. Thome, J. Czapla-Myers, M. Kuester, N. Anderson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations


The Remote Sensing Group (RSG) at the University of Arizona has performed high-accuracy radiometric calibration in the laboratory for more than 20 years in support of vicarious calibration of space-borne and airborne imaging sensors. Typical laboratory calibration relies on lamp-based sources which, while convenient to operate and control, do not simulate the solar spectrum that is the basic energy source for many of the imaging systems. Using the sun as a source for preflight radiometric calibration reduces uncertainties caused by the spectral mismatch between the preflight and inflight calibration, especially in the case in which a solar diffuser is the inflight calibration method. Difficulties in using the sun include varying atmospheric conditions, changing solar angle during the day and with season, and ensuring traceability to national standards. This paper presents several approaches using the sun as a radiometric calibration source coupled with the expected traceable accuracies for each method. The methods include direct viewing of the solar disk with the sensor of interest, illumination of the sensor's inflight solar diffuser by the sun, and illumination of an external diffuser that is imaged by the sensor. The results of the error analysis show that it is feasible to achieve preflight calibration using the sun as a source at the same level of uncertainty as those of lamp-based approaches. The error analysis is evaluated and compared to solar-radiation-based calibrations of one of RSG's laboratory-grade radiometers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEarth Observing Systems XIII
StatePublished - 2008
EventEarth Observing Systems XIII - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 11 2008Aug 13 2008

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherEarth Observing Systems XIII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Absolute-radiometric calibration
  • Atmospheric correction
  • Vicarious calibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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