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Noise Characterization and Performance of MODIS Thermal Emissive Bands

TitleNoise Characterization and Performance of MODIS Thermal Emissive Bands
Publication TypeJournal Publication
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsMadhavan, S., X. Xiong, A. Wu, B. N. Wenny, K. Chiang, N. Chen, Z. Wang, and Y. Li
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing

The MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiome-
ter (MODIS) is a premier Earth-observing sensor of the early 21st
century, flying onboard the Terra (T) and Aqua (A) spacecraft.
Both instruments far exceeded their six-year design life and
continue to operate satisfactorily for more than 15 and 13 years,
respectively. The MODIS instrument is designed to make observa-
tions at nearly a 100% duty cycle covering the entire Earth in less
than two days. The MODIS sensor characteristics include a spec-
tral coverage from 0.41 to 14.4 μm, of which those wavelengths
ranging from 3.7 to 14. 4 μm cover the thermal infrared region
which is interspaced in 16 thermal emissive bands (TEBs). Each of
the TEB contains ten detectors which record samples at a spatial
resolution of 1 km. In order to ensure a high level of accuracy
for the TEB-measured top-of-atmosphere radiances, an onboard
blackbody (BB) is used as the calibration source. This paper
reports the noise characterization and performance of the TEB on
various counts. First, the stability of the onboard BB is evaluated
to understand the effectiveness of the calibration source. Next, key
noise metrics such as the noise equivalent temperature difference
and the noise equivalent dn difference (NEdN) for the various
TEBs are determined from multiple temperature sources. These
sources include the nominally controlled BB temperature of 290 K
for T-MODIS and 285 K for A-MODIS, as well as a BB warm
up–cool down cycle that is performed over a temperature range
from roughly 270 to 315 K. The space-view port that measures
the background signal serves as a viable cold temperature source
for measuring noise. In addition, a well characterized Earth-view
target, the Dome Concordia site located in the Antarctic plateau,
is used for characterizing the stability of the sensor, indirectly
providing a measure of the NEdN. Based on this rigorous char-
acterization, a list of the noisy and inoperable detectors for the
TEB for both instruments is reported to provide the science user
communities quality control of the MODIS Level 1B calibrated