An integrated multiangle, multispectral, and polarimetric imaging concept for aerosol remote sensing from space

David J. Diner, Russell A. Chipman, Neil Beaudry, Brian Cairns, Leslie D. Foo, Steven A. Macenka, Thomas J. Cunningham, Suresh Seshadri, Christoph Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Techniques for passive remote sensing of aerosol optical and microphysical properties from space include visible, near-and shortwave-infrared imaging (e.g., from MODIS), multiangle intensity imaging (e.g., ATSR-2, AATSR, MISR), near-ultraviolet mapping (e.g., TOMS/OMI), and polarimetry (e.g., POLDER, APS). Each of these methods has unique strengths. In this paper, we present a concept for integrating these approaches into a unified sensor. Design goals include spectral coverage from the near-UV to the shortwave infrared; intensity and polarimetric imaging simultaneously at multiple view angles; global coverage within a few days; kilometer to sub-kilometer spatial resolution; and measurement of the degree of linear polarization (DOLP) for a subset of the spectral complement with an uncertainty of 0.5% or less. This high polarimetric accuracy is the most challenging aspect of the design, and is specified in order to achieve climate-quality uncertainties in optical depth, refractive index, and other microphysical properties. Based upon MISR heritage, a pushbroom multi-camera architecture is envisioned, using separate line arrays to collect imagery within each camera in the different spectral bands and in different polarization orientations. For the polarimetric data, accurate cross-calibration of the individual line arrays is essential. An electro-optic polarization "scrambler", activated periodically during calibration sequences, is proposed as a means of providing this cross-calibration. The enabling component is a rapid retardance modulator. Candidate technologies include liquid crystals, rotating waveplates, and photoelastic modulators (PEMs). The PEM, which uses a piezoelectric transducer to induce rapid time-varying stress birefringence in a glass bar, appears to be the most suitable approach. An alternative measurement approach, also making use of a PEM, involves synchronous demodulation of the oscillating signal to reconstruct the polarization state. The latter method is potentially more accurate, but requires a significantly more complex detector architecture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11
Pages (from-to)88-96
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2005
EventEnabling Sensor and Platform Technologies for Spaceborne Remote Sensing - Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: Nov 9 2004Nov 10 2004


  • Aerosols
  • Imaging
  • Multiangle
  • Multispectral
  • Photoelastic modulator
  • Polarization
  • Remote sensing

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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