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Article

A Case for a New Satellite Mission for Remote Sensing of Night Lights

by 1,2,*,†, 3,†, 3,†, 3,† and 4,5
1
International Dark-Sky Association, 5049 E Broadway Blvd, Suite 105, Tucson, AZ 85711-3646, USA
2
Consortium for Dark Sky Studies, University of Utah, 375 S 1530 E, RM 235 ARCH, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730, USA
3
Adler Planetarium, 1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
4
UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, 300 La Kretz Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
5
The Urban Wildlands Group, P.O. Box 24020, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Xuecao Li
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(12), 2294; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13122294
Received: 2 April 2021 / Revised: 4 June 2021 / Accepted: 7 June 2021 / Published: 11 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
The physiology and behavior of most life at or near the Earth’s surface has evolved over billions of years to be attuned with our planet’s natural light–dark cycle of day and night. However, over a relatively short time span, humans have disrupted this natural cycle of illumination with the introduction and now widespread proliferation of artificial light at night (ALAN). Growing research in a broad range of fields, such as ecology, the environment, human health, public safety, economy, and society, increasingly shows that ALAN is taking a profound toll on our world. Much of our current understanding of light pollution comes from datasets generated by remote sensing, primarily from two missions, the Operational Linescan System (OLS) instrument of the now-declassified Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) of the U.S. Department of Defense and its follow-on platform, the Day-Night Band (DNB) of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on board the Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership satellite. Although they have both proved invaluable for ALAN research, sensing of nighttime lights was not the primary design objective for either the DMSP-OLS or VIIRS-DNB instruments; thus, they have some critical limitations. Being broadband sensors, both the DMSP-OLS and VIIRS-DNB instruments suffer from a lack of spectral information. Additionally, their spatial resolutions are too low for many ALAN research applications, though the VIIRS-DNB instrument is much improved over the DMSP-OLS in this regard, as well as in terms of dynamic range and quantization. Further, the very late local time of VIIRS-DNB observations potentially misses the true picture of ALAN. We reviewed both current literature and guiding advice from ALAN experts, aggregated from a diverse range of disciplines and Science Goals, to derive recommendations for a mission to expand knowledge of ALAN in areas that are not adequately addressed with currently existing orbital missions. We propose a stand-alone mission focused on understanding light pollution and its effects on our planet. Here we review the science cases and the subsequent mission recommendations for NITESat (Nighttime Imaging of Terrestrial Environments Satellite), a dedicated ALAN observing mission. View Full-Text
Keywords: artificial light at night; nighttime lights; light pollution; remote sensing; space missions; NITESat artificial light at night; nighttime lights; light pollution; remote sensing; space missions; NITESat
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MDPI and ACS Style

Barentine, J.C.; Walczak, K.; Gyuk, G.; Tarr, C.; Longcore, T. A Case for a New Satellite Mission for Remote Sensing of Night Lights. Remote Sens. 2021, 13, 2294. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13122294

AMA Style

Barentine JC, Walczak K, Gyuk G, Tarr C, Longcore T. A Case for a New Satellite Mission for Remote Sensing of Night Lights. Remote Sensing. 2021; 13(12):2294. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13122294

Chicago/Turabian Style

Barentine, John C., Ken Walczak, Geza Gyuk, Cynthia Tarr, and Travis Longcore. 2021. "A Case for a New Satellite Mission for Remote Sensing of Night Lights" Remote Sensing 13, no. 12: 2294. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13122294

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