A “nadir-only” framework of the radiometric intercomparison of multispectral sensors using simultaneous nadir overpasses (SNOs) is examined at the 1-km regimes and below using four polar-orbiting multispectral sensors: the twin MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) in the Terra and Aqua satellites, the Visible Imaging Infrared Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) in the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP) satellite, and the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) in the Sentinel-3A satellite. The study is carried out in the context of isolating the on-orbit calibration of the reflective solar bands (RSBs) under the “nadir-only” restriction. With a homogeneity-ranked, sample size constrained procedure designed to minimize scene-based variability and noise, the overall approach successfully stabilizes the radiometric ratio and tightens the precision of each SNO-generated comparison event. Improvements to the multiyear comparison time series are demonstrated for different conditions of area size, sample size, and other refinements. The time series demonstrate the capability at 1% precision or better under general conditions but can attain as low as 0.2% in best cases. Solar zenith angle is examined not to be important in the “nadir-only” framework, but the spectral mismatch between two bands can give rise to significant yearly modulation in the comparison time series. A broad-scaled scene-based variability of ~2%, the “scaling phenomenon”, is shown to have pervasive presence in both northern and the southern polar regions to impact inter-RSB comparison. Finally, this paper highlights the multi-instrument cross-comparisons that are certain to take on a more important role in the coming era of high-performing multispectral instruments.
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