Abstract

The assumption of angular dependence stability of the solar diffuser (SD) throughout degradation is critical to the on-orbit calibration of the reflective solar bands (RSBs) in many satellite sensors. Recent evidence has pointed to the contrary, and in this work, we present a thorough investigative effort into the angular dependence of the SD degradation for the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP) satellite and for the twin Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onboard Terra and Aqua spacecrafts. One common key step in the RSB calibration is the use of the SD degradation performance measured by an accompanying solar diffuser stability monitor (SDSM) as a valid substitute for the SD degradation factor in the direction of the RSB view. If SD degradations between these two respective directions do not maintain the same relative relationship over time, then the unmitigated use of the SDSM-measured SD degradation factor in the RSB calibration calculation will generate bias, and consequently, long-term drift in derived science products. We exploit the available history of the on-orbit calibration events to examine the response of the SDSM and the RSB detectors to the incident illumination reflecting off SD versus solar declination angle and show that the angular dependency, particularly at short wavelengths, evolves with respect to time. The generalized and the decisive conclusion is that the bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) of the SD degrades nonuniformly with respect to both incident and outgoing directions. Thus, the SDSM-based measurements provide SD degradation factors that are biased relative to the RSB view direction with respect to the SD. The analysis also reveals additional interesting phenomena, for example, the sharp behavioral change in the evolving angular dependence observed in Terra MODIS and SNPP VIIRS. For SNPP VIIRS the mitigation for this “SD degradation nonuniformity effect” with respect to angles relies on a “hybrid methodology” using lunar-based calibration to set the reliable long-term baseline. For MODIS, the use of earth targets in the major release Collection 6 to improve calibration coefficients and time-dependent response-versus-scan-angle characterization inherently averts the use of SD and its associated issues. The work further supports that having an open-close operational capability for the space view door can minimize SD degradation and its associated effects due to solar exposure, and thus provide long-term benefits for maintaining calibration and science data accuracy.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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