Production of reliable climate datasets from multiple observational measurements acquired by remote sensing satellite systems available now and in the future places stringent requirements on the stability of sensors and consistency among the instruments and platforms. Detecting trends in environmental parameters measured at solar reflectance wavelengths (0.3 to 2.5 microns) requires on-orbit instrument stability at a level of 1% over a decade. This benchmark can be attained using the Moon as a radiometric reference. The lunar calibration program at the U.S. Geological Survey has an operational model to predict the lunar spectral irradiance with precision ???1%, explicitly accounting for the effects of phase, lunar librations, and the lunar surface photometric function. A system for utilization of the Moon by on-orbit instruments has been established. With multiple lunar views taken by a spacecraft instrument, sensor response characterization with sub-percent precision over several years has been achieved. Meteorological satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO) capture the Moon in operational images; applying lunar calibration to GEO visible-channel image archives has the potential to develop a climate record extending decades into the past. The USGS model and system can provide reliable transfer of calibration among instruments that have viewed the Moon as a common source. This capability will be enhanced with improvements to the USGS model absolute scale. Lunar calibration may prove essential to the critical calibration needs to cover a potential gap in observational capabilities prior to deployment of NPP/NPOESS. A key requirement is that current and future instruments observe the Moon.
Additional Publication Details
Use of the moon to support on-orbit sensor calibration for climate change measurements