This paper describes a system, named “pan-and-tilt hyperspectral radiometer system” (PANTHYR) that is designed for autonomous measurement of hyperspectral water reflectance. The system is suitable for deployment in diverse locations (including offshore platforms) for the validation of water reflectance derived from any satellite mission with visible and/or near-infrared spectral bands (400–900 nm). Key user requirements include reliable autonomous operation at remote sites without grid power or cabled internet and only limited maintenance (1–2 times per year), flexible zenith and azimuth pointing, modularity to adapt to future evolution of components and different sites (power, data transmission, and mounting possibilities), and moderate hardware acquisition cost. PANTHYR consists of two commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hyperspectral radiometers, mounted on a COTS pan-and-tilt pointing system, controlled by a single-board-computer and associated custom-designed electronics which provide power, pointing instructions, and data archiving and transmission. The variable zenith pointing improves protection of sensors which are parked downward when not measuring, and it allows for use of a single radiance sensor for both sky and water viewing. The latter gives cost reduction for radiometer purchase, as well as reduction of uncertainties associated with radiometer spectral and radiometric differences for comparable two-radiance-sensor systems. The system is designed so that hardware and software upgrades or changes are easy to implement. In this paper, the system design requirements and choices are described, including details of the electronics, hardware, and software. A prototype test on the Acqua Alta Oceanographic Tower (near Venice, Italy) is described, including comparison of the PANTHYR system data with two other established systems: the multispectral autonomous AERONET-OC data and a manually deployed three-sensor hyperspectral system. The test established that high-quality hyperspectral data for water reflectance can be acquired autonomously with this system. Lessons learned from the prototype testing are described, and the future perspectives for the hardware and software development are outlined.
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