Abstract: Daytime measurements of reflected sunlight in the visible spectrum have been a staple of Earth-viewing radiometers since the advent of the environmental satellite platform. At night, these same optical-spectrum sensors have traditionally been limited to thermal infrared emission, which contains relatively poor information content for many important weather and climate parameters. These deficiencies have limited our ability to characterize the full diurnal behavior and processes of parameters relevant to improved monitoring, understanding and modeling of weather and climate processes. Visible-spectrum light information does exist during the nighttime hours, originating from a wide variety of sources, but its detection requires specialized technology. Such measurements have existed, in a limited way, on USA Department of Defense satellites, but the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite, which carries a new Day/Night Band (DNB) radiometer, offers the first quantitative measurements of nocturnal visible and near-infrared light. Here, we demonstrate the expanded potential for nocturnal low-light visible applications enabled by the DNB. Via a combination of terrestrial and extraterrestrial light sources, such observations are always available—expanding many current existing applications while enabling entirely new capabilities. These novel low-light measurements open doors to a wealth of new interdisciplinary research topics while lighting a pathway toward the optimized design of follow-on satellite based low light visible sensors.
Keywords: satellite imagery; nighttime visible/near-infrared; moonlight
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Miller, S.D.; Straka, W., III; Mills, S.P.; Elvidge, C.D.; Lee, T.F.; Solbrig, J.; Walther, A.; Heidinger, A.K.; Weiss, S.C. Illuminating the Capabilities of the Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership (NPP) Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band. Remote Sens. 2013, 5, 6717-6766.
Miller SD, Straka W, III, Mills SP, Elvidge CD, Lee TF, Solbrig J, Walther A, Heidinger AK, Weiss SC. Illuminating the Capabilities of the Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership (NPP) Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band. Remote Sensing. 2013; 5(12):6717-6766.
Miller, Steven D.; Straka, William, III; Mills, Stephen P.; Elvidge, Christopher D.; Lee, Thomas F.; Solbrig, Jeremy; Walther, Andi; Heidinger, Andrew K.; Weiss, Stephanie C. 2013. "Illuminating the Capabilities of the Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership (NPP) Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band." Remote Sens. 5, no. 12: 6717-6766.