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Best Practice Guidelines for Pre-Launch Characterization and Calibration of Instruments for Passive Optical Remote Sensing



Raju V. Datla, Joseph P. Rice, Keith R. Lykke, Bettye C. Johnson, James J. Butler, Xiaoxiong Xiong


The pre-launch characterization and calibration of remote sensing instruments should be planned and carried out in conjunction with their design and development to meet the mission requirements. In the case of infrared instruments, the onboard calibrators such as blackbodies and the sensors such as spectral radiometers should be characterized and calibrated using SI traceable standards. In the case of earth remote sensing, this allows intercomparison and intercalibration of different sensors in space to create global time series of climate records of high accuracy where some inevitable data gaps can be easily bridged. The recommended best practice guidelines for this pre-launch effort is presented based on experience gained at National Institute of Standards and technology (NIST), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs in the past two decades. The currently available radiometric standards and calibration facilities at NIST serving the remote sensing community are described. Examples of best practice calibrations and intercomparisons to build SI traceable uncertainty budget in the instrumentation used for preflight satellite sensor calibration and validation are presented.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7637
Report Number


Best Practice guidelines, Radiometric Calibrations, Remote sensing, SI traceability


Datla, R. , Rice, J. , Lykke, K. , Johnson, B. , Butler, J. and Xiong, X. (2009), Best Practice Guidelines for Pre-Launch Characterization and Calibration of Instruments for Passive Optical Remote Sensing, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 20, 2024)


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Created November 1, 2009, Updated July 7, 2010