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Aladdin’s Magic Lamp: Active Target Calibration of the DMSP OLS

Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Denver, Boettcher West, Room 120, 2050 E. Iliff Ave., Denver, CO 80208, USA
School of the Natural and Built Environments, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471 Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia
National Geophysical Data Center, 325 Broadway, E/GC2, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
University of Colorado, Boulder, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, 325 Broadway, E/GC2, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2014, 6(12), 12708-12722;
Received: 9 September 2014 / Revised: 24 November 2014 / Accepted: 24 November 2014 / Published: 17 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing with Nighttime Lights)
PDF [2153 KB, uploaded 22 December 2014]


Nighttime satellite imagery from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Programs’ Operational Linescan System (DMSP OLS) is being used for myriad applications including population mapping, characterizing economic activity, disaggregate estimation of CO2 emissions, wildfire monitoring, and more. Here we present a method for in situ radiance calibration of the DMSP OLS using a ground based light source as an active target. We found that the wattage of light used by our active target strongly correlates with the signal measured by the DMSP OLS. This approach can be used to enhance our ability to make intertemporal and intersatellite comparisons of DMSP OLS imagery. We recommend exploring the possibility of establishing a permanent active target for the calibration of nocturnal imaging systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: nighttime satellite imagery; intertemporal calibration; DMSP OLS; intersatellite calibration nighttime satellite imagery; intertemporal calibration; DMSP OLS; intersatellite calibration

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Tuttle, B.T.; Anderson, S.; Elvidge, C.; Ghosh, T.; Baugh, K.; Sutton, P. Aladdin’s Magic Lamp: Active Target Calibration of the DMSP OLS. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 12708-12722.

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