Preflight and in-flight radiometric calibration plans are described for the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) that is a multispectral optical imager of high spatial resolution. It is designed for the remote sensing from orbit of land surfaces and clouds, and is expected to be launched in 1998 on NASA's EOS AM-I spacecraft. ASTER acquires images in three separate spectral regions, the visible and near-infrared (VNIR), the shortwave infrared (SWIR), and the thermal infrared (TIR) with three imaging radiometer subsystems. The absolute radiometric accuracy is required to be better than 4% for VNIR and SWIR radiance measurements and 1 to 3 K, depending on the temperature regions from 200 to 370 K, for TIR temperature measurements.
A reference beam is introduced at the entrance pupil of each imaging radiometer to provide the in-flight calibration. Thus, the ASTER instrument includes internal onboard calibration units that comprise incandescent lamps for the VNIR and SWIR and a blackbody radiator for the TIR as reference sources. The calibration reliability of the VNIR and SWIR is enhanced by a dual system of onboard calibration units as well as by high-stability halogen lamps. A ground calibration system of spectral radiances traceable to fixed-point blackbodies is used for the preflight VNIR and SWIR calibration.
Because of the possibility of nonuniform contamination effects on the partial-aperture onboard calibration, it is desirable to check their results with respect to other methods. Reflectance- and radiance-based vicarious methods have been developed for this purpose. These, and methods involving in-flight cross-calibration with other sensors are also described.