Stability and Accuracy of Earth satellite measurements through calibration and validation


Space-based measurements of the Earth System, including its atmosphere, oceans, land surface, cryosphere, biosphere, and interior, require extensive prelaunch and post launch calibration and validation activities to ensure scientific accuracy and fitness for purpose throughout the 
lifetime of satellite missions. This requirement stems from the need to demonstrate unambiguously that the space-based measurements, typically based on engineering measurements by the detectors (e.g. photons), are sensitive to and can be used to retrieve reliably the geophysical and/or biogeochemical parameters of interest at locations across the Earth.
Most geophysical parameters vary in time and space, and the retrieval algorithms used must be accurate under the full range of conditions. Calibration and validation over the lifetime of missions assure that any long-term variation in observation can be unambiguously tied to the evolution of the Earth system. Such activities are also critical in ensuring that measurements from different satellites can be inter-compared and used seamlessly to create long-term multi-instrument/multi-platform data sets, which serve as the basis for large-scale international science investigations into topics with high societal or environmental importance. Examples of such investigations include the ice mass balance of Greenland, monitoring the evolution of sea ice and snow cover in the Arctic, assessing sinks and sources of methane in the Arctic and improving our knowledge of the terrestrial carbon cycle through multi-sensor forest biomass mapping. This session seeks presentations on the use of surface-based, airborne, and/or space-based observations to prepare and calibrate/validate space-based satellite missions measuring our Earth system. A particular but not exclusive focus will be on activities carried out jointly by NASA and ESA as part of their Joint Program Planning Group Subgroup on calibration and validation and field activities.

Co-organized by GI3
Convener: Malcolm W. J. Davidson | Co-conveners: Maurice Borgeaud, Jack Kaye
vPICO presentations
| Thu, 29 Apr, 15:30–17:00 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Thu, 29 Apr

Chairpersons: Malcolm W. J. Davidson, Maurice Borgeaud, Jack Kaye
Guoqing (Gary) Lin, Robert Wolfe, Bin Tan, and Jaime Nickeson

We have developed a set of geometric standards for assessing earth observing data products derived from space-borne remote sensors.  We have worked with the European Space Agency (ESA) Earthnet Data Assessment Pilot (EDAP) project to provide a set of guidelines to assess geometric performance in data products from commercial electronic-optical remote sensors aboard satellites such as those from Planet Labs. The guidelines, or the standards, are based on performance from a few NASA procured sensors, such as the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensors and the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) sensors. The standards include sensor spatial response, absolute positional accuracy, and band-to-band co-registration. They are tiered in “basic”, “intermediate” and “goal” criteria. These are important geometric factors affecting scientific use of remote sensing data products. We also discuss possible approaches achieving the highest goal in geometric performance standards.

How to cite: Lin, G. (., Wolfe, R., Tan, B., and Nickeson, J.: Community geometric standards for remote sensing products, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1327,, 2021.

Martin Burgdorf, Stefan A. Buehler, Viju John, Thomas Müller, and Marc Prange

Serendipitous observations of airless bodies of the inner solar system provide a unique means to the calibration of instruments on meteorological research satellites, because the physical properties of their surfaces change very little, even on large time scales. We investigated how certain instrumental effects can be characterised with observations of the Moon and Mercury. For this we identified and analysed intrusions of the Moon in the deep space views of HIRS/2, /3, and /4 (High-resolution Infrared Sounder) on various satellites in polar orbits and as well some images obtained with SEVIRI (Spinning Enhanced Visible Infra-Red Imager) on MSG-3 and -4 (Meteosat Second Generation), which had Mercury standing close to the Earth in the rectangular field of view.

A full-disk, infrared Moon model was developed that describes how the lunar flux density depends on phase angle and wavelength. It is particularly helpful for inter-calibration, checks of the photometric consistency of the sounding channels, and the calculation of an upper limit on the non-linearity of the shortwave channels of HIRS. In addition, we used the Moon to determine the co-registration of the different spectral channels.

Studies of the channel alignment are also presented for SEVIRI, an infrared sounder with an angular resolution about a hundred times better than HIRS. As we wanted to check the image quality of this instrument with a quasi-point source as well, we replaced here the Moon with Mercury. We found the typical smearing of the point spread function in the scan direction and occasionally a nearby ghost image, which is three to four times fainter than the main image of the planet. Both effects cause additional uncertainties of the photometric calibration.  

How to cite: Burgdorf, M., Buehler, S. A., John, V., Müller, T., and Prange, M.: Calibration and Validation of Infrared Sounders with Moon and Mercury, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7919,, 2021.

Susan Kizer, David Flittner, Marilee Roell, Robert Damadeo, Carrie Roller, Dale Hurst, Emrys Hall, Allen Jordan, Patrick Cullis, Bryan Johnson, and Richard Querel

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III (SAGE III) instrument installed on the International Space Station (ISS) has completed over three and a half years of data collection and production of science data products. The SAGE III/ISS is a solar and lunar occultation instrument that scans the light from the Sun and Moon through the limb of the Earth’s atmosphere to produce vertical profiles of aerosol, ozone, water vapor, and other trace gases. It continues the legacy of previous SAGE instruments dating back to the 1970s to provide data continuity of stratospheric constituents critical for assessing trends in the ozone layer. This presentation shows the validation results of comparing SAGE III/ISS ozone and water vapor vertical profiles from the newly released v5.2 science product with those of in situ and satellite data .

How to cite: Kizer, S., Flittner, D., Roell, M., Damadeo, R., Roller, C., Hurst, D., Hall, E., Jordan, A., Cullis, P., Johnson, B., and Querel, R.: Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III on the International Space Station (SAGE III/ISS) Newly Released V5.2 Validation of Ozone and Water Vapor Data, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8481,, 2021.

Georgia Doxani, Eric F. Vermote, Sergii Skakun, Ferran Gascon, and Jean-Claude Roger

The atmospheric correction inter-comparison exercise (ACIX) is an international initiative to benchmark various state-of-the-art atmospheric correction (AC) processors. The first inter-comparison exercise initiated in 2016 with the collaboration of European Space Agency (ESA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the frame of the CEOS WGCV (Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, Working Group on Calibration & Validation). The evolution of the participating processors and the increasing interest of AC community to repeat and improve such experiment stimulated the continuation of ACIX and its second implementation (ACIX-II). In particular, 12 AC developer teams from Europe and USA participated in ACIX-II over land sites. In this presentation the benchmarking protocol, i.e. test sites, input data, inter-comparison metrics, etc. will be briefly described and some representative results of ACIX-II will be presented. The inter-comparison outputs varied depending on the sensors, products and sites, demonstrating the strengths and weaknesses of the corresponding processors. In continuation of ACIX-I achievements, the outcomes of the second one are expected to provide an enhanced standardised approach to inter-compare AC processing products, i.e. Aerosol Optical Thickness (AOT), Water Vapour (WV) and Surface Reflectance (SR), and quantitively assessed their quality when in situ measurements are available.

How to cite: Doxani, G., Vermote, E. F., Skakun, S., Gascon, F., and Roger, J.-C.: Atmospheric Correction Inter-comparison eXercise: the second implementation, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8702,, 2021.

Jack Kaye and Malcolm Davidson

The NASA/ESA Joint Program Planning Group (JPPG) subgroup on satellite calibration/validation was created to facilitate coordinated efforts between ESA, NASA, and their respective investigator communities to enhance calibration and/or validation activities for current and/or future satellite missions. The cooperation enabled through this activity includes airborne campaigns, use of surface-based measurements, and satellite-to-satellite intercomparisons. Numerous examples of such activities exist over the ten years of the JPPG. In this talk, examples of calibration/validation focused activities, accomplishments, and future plans will be presented. A particular focus will be on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected field work planned for 2020 and 2021.  The JPPG subgroup also includes joint European-US studies of satellite results that integrate the results of both parties’ observational capabilities, and the status of those activities will be presented as well.

How to cite: Kaye, J. and Davidson, M.: Satellite Calibration/Validation and Related Activities Carried out through NASA/ESA Joint Program Planning Group Subgroup, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8731,, 2021.

Mina Kang, Myoung-Hwan Ahn, Dai Ho Ko, Jhoon Kim, Dennis Nicks, Mijin Eo, Yeeun Lee, Kyung-Jung Moon, and Dong-Won Lee

The successful launch of Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS) onboard the Geostationary Korea Multipurpose Satellite 2B (GK-2B) opens up a new possibility to provide daily air quality information for trace gases and aerosols over East Asia with high spatiotemporal resolution. As a part of major efforts to calibrate and validate the performance of the GEMS, accurate characterization of the spectral response functions (SRFs) is critical. The characteristics of preflight SRFs examined in terms of shape, width, skewness, and kurtosis vary smoothly along both the spectral and spatial direction thanks to highly symmetrical optic system of GEMS. While the preflight SRFs are determined with high accuracy, there is possibility of changes of in-flight SRFs during the harsh launch processes and/or operations over the mission lifetime. Thus, it is important to verify the in-flight SRFs after launch and to continue monitoring of their variability over time to assure the reliable trace gases retrievals. Here, we retrieve the in-flight SRFs for all spectral and spatial domain of the GEMS using spectral fitting of observed daily solar measurement and high-resolution solar reference spectrum. A variety of analytic model functions including hybrid form of Gaussian and flat-topped function, asymmetric super Gaussian, Voigt function are tested to determine the best representative function for GEMS SRF. The SRFs retrieved from early solar irradiances measured during the in-orbit tests agree well with the preflight SRFs indicating that no significant change occurred during the launch process. Continuous monitoring of the in-flight SRF is planned, using daily solar irradiances to investigate the temporal variation along with spectral and spatial directions. The detailed results of the in-flight SRF retrieval are to be presented.

How to cite: Kang, M., Ahn, M.-H., Ko, D. H., Kim, J., Nicks, D., Eo, M., Lee, Y., Moon, K.-J., and Lee, D.-W.: Characterization of the in-flight spectral response function of Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS) retrieved using observed solar irradiance, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9030,, 2021.

Yeeun Lee, Myoung-Hwan Ahn, Mijin Eo, Mina Kang, Kyung-jung Moon, Dai-Ho Ko, Jhoon Kim, and Dong-won Lee

             The Geostationary Korean Multi-Purpose Satellite (GK-2) program consisting of GK-2A and GK-2B provides consistent monitoring information in the Asia Pacific region, including the Korean peninsula. The Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS) onboard GK-2B in particular provides information on the atmospheric composition and aerosol properties, retrieved from the calibrated radiance (Level 1B) with high spectral resolution in 300-500 nm. GEMS started its extended validation measurement after the in-orbit test (IOT) in October following the launch of the satellite in February 2020. One of issues found during the IOT is that GEMS shows a spatial dependence in the measured solar irradiance along the north-south direction, albeit the solar irradiance does not have such a dependency. Thus, such a dependence should be from the optical system or the solar diffuser which is placed in front of the scan mirror. To clarify the root cause of the dependence, we utilize inter-comparison of the Earth measurement between GEMS and the Advanced Meteorological Imager (AMI), a multi-channel imager onboard GK-2A for meteorological monitoring. As the spectral range of GEMS fully covers the spectral response function (SRF) of the AMI visible channel having a central wavelength of 470 nm, spectral matching is properly done by convolving the SRF with the hyperspectral data of GEMS. By taking advantage of the fact that the position of GK-2A and GK-2B is maintained within a 0.5 degree square box centered at 128.2°E, match-up data set for the inter-comparison is prepared by temporal and spatial collocation. To reduce spatio-temporal mis-match and increase the signal to noise, zonal mean is applied to the collocated data. Results show that the north-south dependence occurs in the comparison of reflectance, the ratio between the earth radiance and solar irradiance, while not in the comparison of radiance. This indicates the dependence occurs due to the characteristics of the solar diffuser, not because of optical system. It is further deduced that dependence of diffuser transmittance on the solar azimuth angle is the main cause of the north-south dependency which was not characterized during the pre-flight ground test.

How to cite: Lee, Y., Ahn, M.-H., Eo, M., Kang, M., Moon, K., Ko, D.-H., Kim, J., and Lee, D.: Characterization of GEMS level 1B based on inter-comparison using the visible channel of AMI, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9360,, 2021.

Sarah Taylor, Stefan Adriaensen, Carlos Toledano, África Barreto, Emma Woolliams, and Marc Bouvet

Absolute calibration of Earth observation sensors is key to ensuring long term stability and interoperability, essential for long term global climate records and forecasts. The Moon provides a photometrically stable calibration source, within the range of the Earth radiometric levels, and is free from atmospheric interference. However, to use this ideal calibration source, one must model the variation of its disk integrated irradiance resulting from changes in Sun-Earth-Moon geometries.

LIME, the Lunar Irradiance Model of the European Space Agency, is a new lunar irradiance model developed from ground-based observations acquired using a lunar photometer operating from the Izaña Atmospheric Observatory and Teide Peak, Tenerife. Approximately 300 lunar observations acquired between March 2018 and October 2020 currently contribute to the model, which builds on the widely-used ROLO (Robotic Lunar Observatory) model.

This presentation will outline the strategy used to derive LIME. First, the instrument was calibrated traceably to SI and characterised to determine its thermal sensitivity and its linearity over the wide dynamic range required. Second, the instrument was installed at the observatory, and nightly observations over a two-hour time window were extrapolated to provide top-of-atmosphere lunar irradiance using the Langley plot method. Third, these observations were combined to derive the model. Each of these steps includes a metrologically rigorous uncertainty analysis.

Comparisons to several EO sensors will be presented including Proba-V, Pleiades and Sentinel 3A and 3B, as well as a comparison to GIRO, the GSICS implementation   of the ROLO model. Initial results indicate LIME predicts 3% - 5% higher disk integrated lunar irradiance than the GIRO/ROLO model for the visible and near-infrared channels. The model has an expanded (k = 2) absolute radiometric uncertainty of ~2%, and it is expected that planned observations until at least 2024 will further constrain the model in subsequent updates.

How to cite: Taylor, S., Adriaensen, S., Toledano, C., Barreto, Á., Woolliams, E., and Bouvet, M.: LIME: the Lunar Irradiance Model of the European Space Agency, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10066,, 2021.

Alexander Cede, Martin Tiefengraber, Manuel Gebetsberger, Michel Van Roozendael, Henk Eskes, Christophe Lerot, Diego Loyola, Nicolas Theys, Isabelle De Smedt, Nader Abuhassan, Thomas Hanisco, Angelika Dehn, Jonas Von Bismarck, Stefano Casadio, Luke Valin, and Barry Lefer

The worldwide operating Pandonia Global Network (PGN) is measuring atmospheric trace gases at high temporal resolution with the purpose of air quality monitoring and satellite validation. It is an activity carried out jointly by NASA and ESA as part of their “Joint Program Planning Group Subgroup” on calibration and validation and field activities, with additional collaboration from other institutions, most notably a strongly growing participation of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The more than 50 official PGN instruments are homogeneously calibrated and their data are centrally processed in real-time. Since 2019, total NO2 column amounts from the PGN are uploaded daily to the ESA Atmospheric Validation Data Centre (EVDC), where they are used for operational validation of Sentinel 5P (S5P) retrievals. During 2020, a new processor version 1.8 has been developed, which produces improved total NO2 column amounts and also the following new PGN products: total columns of O3, SO2 and HCHO based on direct sun observations and tropospheric columns, surface concentrations and tropospheric profiles of NO2 and HCHO based on sky observations. In this presentation we show some first examples of comparisons of the new PGN products with S5P data. Compared to the total NO2 columns from the previous processor version 1.7, the 1.8 data use better estimations for the effective NO2 temperature and the air mass factor. The effect of this improvement on the comparison with S5P retrievals is shown for some remote and high-altitude PGN sites. The new PGN total O3 column algorithm also retrieves the effective O3 temperature, which is a rather unique feature for ground-based direct sun retrievals. This allows us to analyze whether potential differences to satellite O3 columns might be influenced by the O3 temperature. Including the O3 temperature in the spectral fitting has also allowed the retrieval of accurate total SO2 columns. This PGN data product is of particular interest for satellite validation, as ground-based total SO2 column amounts are hardly measured by other instrumentation. An initial comparison of the PGN SO2 columns with S5P retrievals at selected PGN sites around the world is shown. PGN total HCHO columns from direct sun measurements are now possible for those PGN instruments, where the hardware parts made of Delrin, which outgasses HCHO, have been replaced by Nylon pieces. An initial comparison to HCHO retrievals from S5P is shown for locations with these upgraded instruments. Another new feature in the 1.8 PGN data is that they come with comprehensive uncertainty estimations, separated in the output files as independent, structured, common and total uncertainty.

How to cite: Cede, A., Tiefengraber, M., Gebetsberger, M., Van Roozendael, M., Eskes, H., Lerot, C., Loyola, D., Theys, N., De Smedt, I., Abuhassan, N., Hanisco, T., Dehn, A., Von Bismarck, J., Casadio, S., Valin, L., and Lefer, B.: New and improved data from the Pandonia Global Network for satellite validation, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13302,, 2021.

Kevin Turpie, Steven Brown, John Woodward, Thomas Stone, Andrew Gadsden, Steven Grantham, Thomas Larason, Stephen Maxwell, Andrew Cataford, and Andrew Newton

To monitor global environments from space, satellites must be calibrated accurately and consistently across time, missions and instruments.  This requires the use of a stable, common reference that is continuously accessible to Earth observing satellites, whether they make up series of missions spanning long periods of time or comprise constellations acquiring many simultaneous observations across the planet.  The Moon can serve well as such a common reference.  Its surface reflectance is stable to within one part in 108.  It is theorized that its radiant output with time changes repeatedly and very predictably with viewing and illumination geometry.  In addition, it has a radiant flux more comparable to the Earth’s surface than the Sun and can be viewed directly by the instrument.  Currently, to predict the lunar irradiance given an illumination and viewing geometry, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has developed the Robotic Lunar Observatory (ROLO) Model of exo-atmospheric lunar spectral irradiance. The USGS ROLO model represents the current most precise knowledge of lunar spectral irradiance and is used frequently as a relative calibration standard by space-borne Earth-observing sensors.  Current knowledge of the Moon's spectral irradiance is thought to be limited to 5-10% uncertainty.  However, monitoring changing Earth environments calls for an absolute lunar reference with higher accuracy. 

The development of the ROLO model and subsequent attempts to better characterize the lunar spectral irradiance cycle were based on observations made from the Earth surface.  This requires applying corrections to remove effects of the atmosphere, which limits the accuracy.  The Airborne LUnar Spectral Irradiance (Air-LUSI) system was developed to make highly accurate, SI-traceable measurements of lunar spectral irradiance from NASA’s ER-2 aircraft flying at 21 km, above 95% of the atmosphere.  To that end, the air-LUSI system employs an autonomous, robotic telescope system that tracks the Moon in flight and a stable spectrometer housed in an enclosure providing a robustly controlled environment.  During November 2019, the Air-LUSI system was demonstrated with flights on five consecutive nights acquiring observations of the Moon at lunar phases of 10°, 21°, 34°, 46°, and 59°.  Air-LUSI is now ready for operational use.  This paper provides an overview of this new capability and how it, along with other efforts underway, can help transform how we monitor the Earth from space.

How to cite: Turpie, K., Brown, S., Woodward, J., Stone, T., Gadsden, A., Grantham, S., Larason, T., Maxwell, S., Cataford, A., and Newton, A.: Air-LUSI: Supporting Advancement of the Moon as a Reference for Earth Observations from Space, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14222,, 2021.

Nigel Fox, Yolanda Shea, Thorsten Fehr, Fleming Gary, Constantine Lukashin, Peter Pilewskie, John Remedios, and Paul Smith

The number, range and criticality of applications of Earth viewing optical sensors is increasing rapidly.  Not only from national/international space agencies but also through the launch of commercial constellations such as those of planet and the concept of Analysis Ready Data (ARD) reducing the skill needed for utilisation of the data.  However, no one organisation can provide all the tools necessary, and the need for a coordinated holistic earth observing system has never been greater. Achieving this vision has led to international initiatives coordinated by bodies such as the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS and Global Space Inter-Calibration System (GISCS) of WMO to establish strategies to facilitate interoperability and the understanding and removal of bias through post-launch Calibration and Validation. 

In parallel, the societal challenge resulting from climate change has been a major stimulus for significantly improved accuracy and trust of satellite data. Instrumental biases and uncertainty must be sufficiently small to minimise the multi-decadal timescales needed to detect small trends and attribute their cause, enabling them to become unequivocally accepted as evidence. 

Although there have been many advances in the pre-flight SI-traceable calibration of optical sensors, in the last decade, unpredictable degradation in performance from both launch and operational environment remains a major difficulty.  Even with on-board calibration systems, uncertainties of less than a few percent are rarely achieved and maintained and the evidential link to SI-traceability is weak. For many climate observations the target uncertainty needs to be improved ten-fold. 

However, this decade will hopefully see the launch of two missions providing spectrally resolved observations of the Earth at optical wavelengths, CLARREO Pathfinder on the International Space Station from NASA [1] and TRUTHS from ESA [2] to change this paradigm.  Both payloads are explicitly designed to achieve uncertainties close to the ideal observing system, commensurate with the needs of climate, with robust SI-Traceability evidenced in space.  Not only can they make high accuracy climate quality observations of the Earth and in the case of TRUTHS also the Sun, but they will also transfer their SI-traceable uncertainty to other sensors.  In this way creating the concept of a ‘metrology laboratory in space’, providing a ‘gold standard’ reference to anchor and improve the calibration of other sensors. The two missions achieve their traceability in orbit through differing methods but will use synergistic approaches for establishing in-flight cross-calibrations.  This paper will describe these strategies and illustrate the benefit through examples where improved accuracy has the most impact on the Earth observing system.

The complementarity and international value of these missions has ensured a strong partnership during early development phases of the full CLARREO mission and that of the NPL conceived TRUTHS. Following a proposal by the UK Space Agency  and subsequent adoption into the ESA EarthWatch program this partnership is further strengthened with the ESA team and a vision that together the two missions can lay the foundation of a framework for a future sustainable international climate and calibration observatory to the benefit of the global Earth Observing community.




How to cite: Fox, N., Shea, Y., Fehr, T., Gary, F., Lukashin, C., Pilewskie, P., Remedios, J., and Smith, P.: Toward a Climate and Calibration Observatory in space: NASA CLARREO Pathfinder and ESA TRUTHS, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14656,, 2021.

Thorsten Fehr, Gail Skofronick-Jackson, Vassilis Amiridis, Jonas von Bismarck, Shuyi Chen, Cyrille Flamant, Rob Koopman, Christian Lemmerz, Griša Močnik, Tommaso Parrinello, Aaron Piña, and Anne Grete Straume

The Tropics are covering around 40% of the globe and are home to approximately 40% of the world population. However, numerical weather prediction (NWP) for this region still remains challenging due to the lack of basic observations and incomplete understanding of atmospheric processes, also affecting extratropical storm developments. As a result, the largest impact of the ESA’s Aeolus satellite observations on NWP is expected in the Tropics where only a very limited number of wind profile observations from the ground can be performed.

An especially important case relating to the predictability of tropical weather system is the outflow of Saharan dust, its interaction with cloud micro-physics and the overall impact on the development of tropical storms over the Atlantic Ocean. The region of the coast of West Africa uniquely allows the study of the Saharan Aerosol layer, African Easterly Waves and Jets, Tropical Easterly Jet, as well as the deep convection in ITCZ and their relation to the formation of convective systems and the transport of dust.

Together with international partners, ESA and NASA are currently implementing a joint Tropical campaign from July to August 2021 with its base in Cape Verde. The campaign objective is to provide information on the validation and preparation of the ESA missions Aeolus and EarthCARE, respectively, as well as supporting a range of related science objectives for the investigation in the interactions between African Easterly and other tropical waves with the mean flow, dust and their impact on the development of convective systems; the structure and variability of the marine boundary layer in relation to initiation and lifecycle of the convective cloud systems within and across the ITCZ; and impact of wind, aerosol, clouds, and precipitation effects on long range dust transport and air quality over the western Atlantic.

The campaign comprises a unique combination of both strong airborne and ground-based elements collocated on Cape Verde. The airborne component with wind and aerosol lidars, cloud radars, in-situ instrumentation and additional observations includes the NASA DC-8 with science activities coordinated by the U. of Washington, the German DLR Falcon-20, the French Safire Falcon-20 with activities led by LATMOS, and the Slovenian Aerovizija Advantic WT-10 light aircraft in cooperation with the U. Novo Gorica. The ground-based component led by the National Observatory of Athens is a collaboration of more than 25 European teams providing in-situ and remote sensing aerosol and cloud measurements with a wide range of lidar, radar and radiometer systems, as well as drone observatins by the Cyprus Institute.

In preparation for the field campaign, the NASA and ESA management and science teams are closely collaborating with regular coordination meetings, in particular in coordinating the shift of the activity by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The time gained has been used to further consolidate the planning, and in particular with a dry-run campaign organized by NASA with European participation where six virtual flights were conducted in July 2020.

 This paper will present a summary of the campaign preparation activities and the consolidated plan for the 2021 Tropical campaign.

How to cite: Fehr, T., Skofronick-Jackson, G., Amiridis, V., von Bismarck, J., Chen, S., Flamant, C., Koopman, R., Lemmerz, C., Močnik, G., Parrinello, T., Piña, A., and Straume, A. G.: The Joint ESA-NASA Tropical Campaign Activity – Aeolus Calibration/Validation and Science in the Topics, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15144,, 2021.

Roberto Sabia, Sebastien Guimbard, Nicolas Reul, Tony Lee, Julian Schanze, Nadya Vinogradova, David Le Vine, Fred Bingham, Fabrice Collard, Klaus Scipal, and Henri Laur

The Pilot Mission Exploitation Platform (Pi-MEP) for Salinity ( has been released operationally in 2019 to the broad oceanographic community, in order to foster satellite sea surface salinity validation and exploitation activities.

Specifically, the Platform aims at enhancing salinityvalidation, by allowing systematic inter-comparison of various EO datasets with a broad suite of in-situ data, and also at enabling oceanographic process studies by capitalizing on salinity data in synergy with additional spaceborne estimates.


Despite Pi-MEP was originally conceived as an ESA initiative to widen the uptake of the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission data over ocean, a project partnership with NASA was devised soon after the operational deployment, and an official collaboration endorsed within the ESA-NASA Joint Program Planning Group (JPPG).


The Salinity Pi-MEP has therefore become a reference hub for SMOS, SMAP and Aquarius satellite salinity missions, which are assessed in synergy with additional thematic datasets (e.g., precipitation, evaporation, currents, sea level anomalies, ocean color, sea surface temperature). 

Match-up databases of satellite/in situ (such as Argo, TSG, moorings, drifters) data and corresponding validation reports at different spatiotemporal scales are systematically generated; furthermore, recently-developed dedicated tools allow data visualization, metrics computation and user-driven features extractions.


The Platform is also meant to monitor salinity in selected oceanographic “case studies”, ranging from river plumes monitoring to SSS characterization in challenging regions, such as high latitudes or semi-enclosed basins.


The two Agencies are currently collaborating to widen the Platform features on several technical aspects - ranging from a triple-collocation software implementation to a sustained exploitation of data from the SPURS-1/2 campaigns. In this context, an upgrade of the satellite/in-situ match-up methodology has been recently agreed, resulting into a redefinition of the validation criteria that will be subsequently implemented in the Platform.


A further synthesis of the three satellites salinity algorithms, models and auxiliary data handling is at the core of the ESA Climate Change Initiative (CCI) on Salinity and of ESA-NASA further collaboration.

How to cite: Sabia, R., Guimbard, S., Reul, N., Lee, T., Schanze, J., Vinogradova, N., Le Vine, D., Bingham, F., Collard, F., Scipal, K., and Laur, H.: Pi-MEP Salinity – an ESA-NASA Platform for sustained satellite surface salinity validation, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15161,, 2021.

Valentina Boccia, Jennifer Adams, Kurtis J. Thome, Kevin R. Turpie, Raymond Kokaly, Marc Bouvet, Robert O. Green, and Michael Rast

Imaging spectroscopy has been identified by ESA, NASA and other international space agencies as key to addressing a number of most important scientific and environmental management objectives. To implement the critical EU- and related policies for the management of natural resources, assets and benefits, and to achieve the objectives outlined by NASA’s Decadal Survey in ecosystem science, hydrology and geology, high fidelity imaging spectroscopy data with global coverage and high spatial resolution are required. As such, ESA’s CHIME (Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment) and NASA’s SBG (Surface Biology and Geology) satellite missions aim to provide imaging spectroscopy data at global coverage at regular intervals of time with high spatial resolution.

However, the scientific and applied objectives motivate more spatial coverage and more rapid revisit than any one agency’s observing system can provide. With the development of SBG and CHIME, the mid-to-late 2020s will see more global coverage spectroscopic observing systems, whereby these challenging needs can be more fully met by a multi-mission and multi-Agency synergetic approach, rather than by any single observing system.

Therefore, an ESA-NASA cooperation on imaging spectroscopy space missions was seen as a priority for collaboration, specifically given the complementarity of mission objectives and measurement targets of the SBG and CHIME. Such cooperation is now being formalized as part of the ESA-NASA Joint Program Planning Group activities.

Among the others, calibration and validation activities (Cal/Val) are fundamental for imaging spectroscopy while the satellites are in-orbit and operating. They determine the quality and integrity of the data provided by the spectrometers and become even more crucial when data from different satellites, carrying different imaging sensors, are used by users worldwide in a complementary and synergetic manner, like it will be the case for CHIME and SBG data. Indeed, Cal/Val activities not only have enormous downstream impacts on the accuracy and reliability of the products, but also facilitate cross-calibration and interoperability among several imaging spectrometers, supporting their synergistic use. Accordingly, within the context of this cooperation, a Working Group (WG) on Calibration/Validation has been set up, aiming to establish a roadmap for future SBG-CHIME coordination activities and collaborative studies.

This contribution aims to outline the key areas of cooperation between SBG and CHIME in terms of Calibration and Validation, and present the establishment of a roadmap between the two missions, focusing on the following topics:

  • Establishing an end-to-end cal/val strategy for seamless data products across missions, including transfer standards;
  • Measurement Networks and commonly recognised Cal/Val reference sites;
  • Status of atmospheric radiative transfer and atmospheric–correction procedures;
  • Standardisation and Quality Control of reference data sets;
  • Definition and implementation of joint airborne spectroscopy campaigns, such as the executed 2018 and planned 2021 campaigns, to simulate both missions and exercise the capabilities needed for eventual interoperability (incl. data collection, calibration, data product production);
  • Continuous validation throughout the lifetime of products;
  • Identifying other opportunities for efficiency and success through cooperation on calibration and validation, downlink capabilities and shared algorithms (e.g. compression and on-board data reduction).

How to cite: Boccia, V., Adams, J., Thome, K. J., Turpie, K. R., Kokaly, R., Bouvet, M., Green, R. O., and Rast, M.: NASA-ESA Cooperation on the SBG and CHIME Hyperspectral Satellite Missions: a roadmap for the joint Working Group on Cal/Val activities, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15166,, 2021.

Sébastien Saunier

In this paper, the authors propose to describe the methodologies developed for the validation of Very High-Resolution (VHR) optical missions within the Earthnet Data Assessment Pilot (EDAP) Framework.  The use of surface-based, drone, airborne, and/or space-based observations to build calibration reference is playing a fundamental role in the validation process. A rigorous validation process must compare mission data products with independent reference data suitable for the satellite measurements. As a consequence, one background activity within EDAP is the collection, the consolidation of reference data of various nature depending on the validation methodology.

The validation methodologies are conventionally divided into three categories; i.e. validations of the measurement, the geometry and the image quality. The validation of the measurement requires an absolute calibration reference. This latter on is built up by using either in situ measurements collected with RadCalNet[1] stations or by using space based observations performed with “gold” mission (Sentinel-2, Landsat-8) over Pseudo Invariant Calibration Site (PICS). For the geometric validation, several test sites have been set up. A test site is equipped with data from different reference sources. The full usability of a test site is not systematic. It depends on the validation metrics and the specifications of the sensor, particularly the spatial resolution and image acquisition geometry. Some existing geometric sites are equipped with Ground Control Point (GCP) set surveyed by using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) devices in the field.  In some cases, the GCP set comes in support to the refinement of an image observed with drones in order to produce a raster reference, subsequently used to validate the internal geometry of images under assessment. Besides, a limiting factor in the usage of VHR optical ortho-rectified data is the accuracy of the Digital Surface Model (DSM) / Digital Terrain Model (DTM). In order to separate errors due to terrain elevation and error due to the sensor itself, some test sites are also equipped with very accurate Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data.

The validation of image quality address all aspect related to the spatial resolution and is strongly linked to both the measurement and the geometry. The image quality assessments are performed with both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The quantitative approach relies on the analysis of artificial ground target images and lead to the estimate of Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) together with additional image quality parameters such as Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR). On the other hand, the qualitative approach assesses the interpretability of input images and leads to a rating scaling[2] which is strongly related to the sensor Ground Resolution Distance (GRD). This visual inspection task required a database including very detailed image of man-made objects. This database is considered within EDAP as a reference.



How to cite: Saunier, S.: Reference Data and Methods for Validation of Very High Resolution Optical Data Within ESA / EDAP Project, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15501,, 2021.