The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for Earth and environmental sensing has increased significantly in recent years. This is particularly true for multi- and hyperspectral sensing, with a variety of both push-broom and snap-shot systems becoming available. However, information on their radiometric performance and stability over time is often lacking. The authors propose the use of a general protocol for sensor evaluation to characterize the data retrieval and radiometric performance of push-broom hyperspectral cameras, and illustrate the workflow with the Nano-Hyperspec (Headwall Photonics, Boston USA) sensor. The objectives of this analysis were to: (1) assess dark current and white reference consistency, both temporally and spatially; (2) evaluate spectral fidelity; and (3) determine the relationship between sensor-recorded radiance and spectroradiometer-derived reflectance. Both the laboratory-based dark current and white reference evaluations showed an insignificant increase over time (<2%) across spatial pixels and spectral bands for >99.5% of pixel–waveband combinations. Using a mercury/argon (Hg/Ar) lamp, the hyperspectral wavelength bands exhibited a slight shift of 1-3 nm against 29 Hg/Ar wavelength emission lines. The relationship between the Nano-Hyperspec radiance values and spectroradiometer-derived reflectance was found to be highly linear for all spectral bands. The developed protocol for assessing UAV-based radiometric performance of hyperspectral push-broom sensors showed that the Nano-Hyperspec data were both time-stable and spectrally sound.
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