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Simulation of Multiangular Remote Sensing Products Using Small Satellite...

Nag, S., C. Gatebe, and T. Hilker (2016), Simulation of Multiangular Remote Sensing Products Using Small Satellite Formations, IEEE Journal Of Selected Topics In Applied Earth Observations And Remote Sensing, 1-16, doi:10.1109/JSTARS.2016.2570683.

To completely capture the multiangular reflectance of an opaque surface, one must estimate the bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF), which seeks to represent variations in surface reflectance as a function of measurement and illumination angles at any time instant. The gap in angular sampling abilities of existing single satellites in Earth observation missions can be complemented by small satellites in formation flight. The formation would have intercalibrated spectrometer payloads making reflectance measurements, at many zenith and azimuthal angles simultaneously. We use a systems engineering tool coupled with a science evaluation tool to demonstrate the performance impact and mission feasibility. Formation designs are generated and compared to each other and multisensor single spacecraft, in terms of estimation error of BRDF and its dependent products such as albedo, light use efficiency (LUE), and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). Performance is benchmarked with respect to data from previous airborne campaigns (NASA’s Cloud Absorption Radiometer), and tower measurements (AMSPEC II), and assuming known BRDF models. Simulations show that a formation of six small satellites produces lesser average error (21.82%) than larger single spacecraft (23.2%), purely in terms of angular sampling benefits. The average monolithic albedo error of 3.6% is outperformed by a formation of three satellites (1.86%), when arranged optimally and by a formation of seven to eight satellites when arranged in any way. An eight-satellite formation reduces albedo errors to 0.67% and LUE errors from 89.77% (monolithic) to 78.69%. The average NDVI for an eight satellite, nominally maintained formation is better than the monolithic 0.038.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)