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Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 978;

Radiometric Calibration for Multispectral Camera of Different Imaging Conditions Mounted on a UAV Platform

College of Geospatial Information Science and Technology, Capital normal university, Beijing 100048, China
Institute for Infocomm Research, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore 138632, Singapore
Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
School of Land Science and Technology, China University of Geosciences, Beijing 100083, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 4 February 2019 / Accepted: 7 February 2019 / Published: 14 February 2019
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Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with multispectral cameras for remote sensing (RS) has provided new opportunities for ecological and agricultural related applications for modelling, mapping, and monitoring. However, when the multispectral images are used for the quantitative study, they should be radiometrically calibrated, which accounts for atmospheric and solar conditions by converting the digital number into a unit of scene reflectance that can be directly used in quantitative remote sensing (QRS). Indeed, some of the present applications using multispectral images are processed without precise calibration or with coarse calibration. The radiometric calibration of images from the UAV platform is quite difficult to perform, as the imaging condition is different for every single image. Thus, a standard procedure is necessary for a systematical radiometric calibration method to generate multispectral images with unit reflectance. Further, these images can be used to calculate vegetation indices, which are useful in monitoring vegetation phenology. These vegetation indices are considered as a potential screening tool to know the plant status, such as nitrogen, chlorophyll content, green leaf biomass, etc. This study focuses on a series of radiometric calibrations for multispectral images acquired from different flight altitudes, time instants, and weather conditions. Radiometric calibration for multispectral images is performed using the linear regression method (LRM). The main contribution involves (1) affirming the optimal calibration targets and assessing the atmospheric effects of different flights using the single scene of images; (2) to evaluate the effects of mosaic images with the LRM; (3) to propose and validate a universal calibration equation for the Mini Multiple Camera Array (MCA) 6 camera. The obtained results show that the three calibration targets, such as the dark, moderate, and white, are better for the Mini MCA 6 camera. The atmospheric effects increase with the increase of flight altitudes for each band, and the camera effect is of a fixed number. However, the camera effect and atmospheric attenuation to reflectance from different altitudes were relatively low considering the accuracy assessment. The performance measures namely, mean absolute deviation (indicated as V) and root mean square error (RMSE) between single and mosaic images show that the mosaic will not influence too much reflectance. The LRM performs well in all weather conditions. The universal calibration equation is suitable to apply to the images acquired during a sunny day and even with a little cloud. View Full-Text
Keywords: UAV; multispectral images; radiometric calibration; linear regression method; universal calibration equation UAV; multispectral images; radiometric calibration; linear regression method; universal calibration equation

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Guo, Y.; Senthilnath, J.; Wu, W.; Zhang, X.; Zeng, Z.; Huang, H. Radiometric Calibration for Multispectral Camera of Different Imaging Conditions Mounted on a UAV Platform. Sustainability 2019, 11, 978.

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