Abstract

The reflective solar bands (RSBs) of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on board the Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership satellite are calibrated by a solar diffuser (SD) panel whose performance is itself monitored by an accompanying solar diffuser stability monitor (SDSM). In this comprehensive work we describe the SD-based calibration algorithm of the RSBs, analyze the calibration data, and derive the performance results—the RSB calibration coefficients or F-factors—for the current three and a half years of mission. The application of the newly derived product of the SD bidirectional reflectance factor and the vignetting function for the SD screen and the newly derived SD degradation, so-called H-factors, effectively minimizes the artificial seasonal patterns in the RSB calibration coefficients due to the errors of these ingredient inputs. The full illumination region, the “sweet spot,” during calibration events for SD view is carefully examined and selected to ensure high data quality and to reduce noise owing to non-fully illuminated samples. A time-dependent relative spectral response (RSR), coming from the large out-of-band contribution and the VIIRS optical system wavelength-dependent degradation, is derived from an iterative approach and applied in the SD calibration for each RSB. The result shows that VIIRS RSBs degrade much faster at near-infrared (NIR) and shortwave-infrared (SWIR) wavelength ranges due to the faster degradation of the rotating telescope assembly against the remaining part of the system. The gains of the VIIRS RSBs have degraded 2.0% (410 nm, Band M1), 0.2% (443 nm, Band M2), 0.3% (486 nm, Band M3), 0.2% (551 nm, Band M4), 6.2% (640 nm, Band I1), 11.0% (671 nm, Band M5), 21.3% (745 nm, Band M6), 35.8% (862 nm, Band I2), and 35.8% (862 nm, Band M7), respectively, since launch and 24.8% (1238 nm, Band M8), 18.5% (1378 nm, Band M9), 11.5% (1610 nm, Band I3), 11.5% (1610, Band M10), and 4.0% (2250 nm, Band M11), respectively, since 20 January 2012. It is established that the SD calibration accurately catches the on-orbit RSB degradation according to the instrument design and the calibration algorithm. However, due to the inherent nonuniform degradation of the SD affecting especially the short wavelength bands and the lack of capability of the SDSM calibration to catch degradation beyond 935 nm, the direct and the unmitigated application of the SD calibration result will introduce nonnegligible error into the calibration coefficients resulting in long-term drifts in the sensor data records and consequently the high-level products. We explicitly unveil the effect of the nonuniformity in SD degradation in the RSB calibration coefficients but also briefly discuss a critical yet simple mitigation to restore the accuracy of the calibration coefficients based on lunar observations. The methodology presented here thus remains intact as the cornerstone of the RSB calibration, and our derived RSB calibration coefficients represent the optimal result. This work has the most impact on the quality of the ocean color products that sensitively depend on the moderate visible and NIR bands (M1–M7), as well as the SWIR bands (M8, M10, and M11).

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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