Abstract

In early 2013, three airborne polarimeters were flown on the high altitude NASA ER-2 aircraft in California for the Polarimeter Definition Experiment (PODEX). PODEX supported the pre-formulation NASA Aerosol–Cloud–Ecosystem (ACE) mission, which calls for an imaging polarimeter in polar orbit (among other instruments) for the remote sensing of aerosols, oceans, and clouds. Several polarimeter concepts exist as airborne prototypes, some of which were deployed during PODEX as a capabilities test. Two of those instruments to date have successfully produced Level 1 (georegistered, calibrated radiance and polarization) data from that campaign: the Airborne Multiangle Spectropolarimetric Imager (AirMSPI) and the Research Scanning Polarimeter (RSP). We compared georegistered observations of a variety of scene types by these instruments to test whether Level 1 products agreed within stated uncertainties. Initial comparisons found radiometric agreement, but polarimetric biases beyond measurement uncertainties. After subsequent updates to calibration, georegistration, and the measurement uncertainty models, observations from the instruments now largely agree within stated uncertainties. However, the 470 nm reflectance channels have a roughly +6% bias of AirMSPI relative to RSP, beyond expected measurement uncertainties. We also find that observations of dark (ocean) scenes, where polarimetric uncertainty is expected to be largest, do not agree within stated polarimetric uncertainties. Otherwise, AirMSPI and RSP observations are consistent within measurement uncertainty expectations, providing credibility for the subsequent creation of Level 2 (geophysical product) data from these instruments, and comparison thereof. The techniques used in this work can also form a methodological basis for other intercomparisons, for example, of the data gathered during the recent Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar (ACEPOL) field campaign, carried out in October and November of 2017 with four polarimeters (including AirMSPI and RSP).

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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