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A novel apparatus to measure reflected sunlight from the Moon



Claire E. Cramer, Gerald T. Fraser, Keith R. Lykke, John T. Woodward IV, Alan W. Smith


We describe a new apparatus for measuring the spectral irradiance of the Moon at visible wavelengths. Our effort builds upon the United States Geological Survey’s highly successful Robotic Lunar Observatory (ROLO), which determined a precise model for the time-dependent irradiance of the Moon from six years of observations obtained with an imaging telescope equipped with a set of narrow-band filters. The ROLO Irradiance Model allows the Moon to be used as a radiometric reference for tracking changes in the absolute responsivity of near-infrared to visible satellite sensors as a function of time to better than 1 %. The goal of the present effort is to improve the absolute radiometric accuracy of the ROLO model, presently estimated at 5 % - 10 %, to better than 1 %. Our approach, which uses an integrating sphere at the focal plane of a telescope to direct light from the integrated lunar disk into a stable spectrograph, also eliminates the need to interpolate between the 32 visible and near-infrared bands measured by ROLO. The new measurements will allow weather, climate, land-surface, and defense satellites to use the Moon as an absolute calibration reference, potentially reducing the impact of disruptions in continuous long-term climate data records caused by gaps in satellite-sensor coverage.
No Journal Selected


lunar calibration, lunar radiation, lunar reflectance, Moon, Robotic Lunar Observatory, ROLO, satellite sensor calibration


Cramer, C. , Fraser, G. , Lykke, K. , Woodward, J. and Smith, A. (2013), A novel apparatus to measure reflected sunlight from the Moon, No Journal Selected, [online], (Accessed May 28, 2024)


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Created September 19, 2013, Updated November 10, 2018