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Precise Measurement of Lunar Spectral Irradiance at Visible Wavelengths



Keith R. Lykke, John T. Woodward IV, Allan W. Smith, Claire E. Cramer


We report a measurement of lunar spectral irradiance with an uncertainty below 1 % from 420 nm to 1000 nm. This measurement uncertainty meets the stability requirement for many climate data records derived from satellite images, including those for vegetation, aerosols, and snow and ice albedo. It therefore opens the possibility of using the Moon as a calibration standard to bridge gaps in satellite coverage and validate atmospheric retrieval algorithms. Our measurement technique also yields detailed information about the atmosphere at the measurement site, suggesting that lunar observations are a possible solution for aerosol monitoring during the polar winter and can provide nighttime measurements to complement aerosol data collected with sun photometers. Our measurement, made with a novel apparatus, is an order of magnitude more accurate than the previous state-of- the- art and has continuous spectral coverage, removing the need to interpolate between filter passbands.
Journal of Research (NIST JRES) - 118.020
Report Number


calibration, lunar spectral irradiance, moon, radiometry, remote sensing


Lykke, K. , Woodward, J. , Smith, A. and Cramer, C. (2013), Precise Measurement of Lunar Spectral Irradiance at Visible Wavelengths, Journal of Research (NIST JRES), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 23, 2024)
Created November 12, 2013, Updated November 10, 2018