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RIT Researchers Win Grant to Improve Landsat 8 Data

Photonics Spectra
Jul 2017
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) researchers have won funding from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to ensure accurate temperature data from NASA's Landsat 8 satellite.

The agency awarded Aaron Gerace and Matthew Montanaro, senior scientists in RIT's Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, a five-year, $500,000 grant to continue monitoring improvements they made to Landsat 8's Thermal Infrared Sensor. The researchers developed a software correction to compensate for faulty optics discovered in the instrument following the Landsat 8 launch in 2013. Corrected image data collected from the Thermal Infrared Sensor shows accuracies similar to previous Landsat instruments. Their software solution fixed a problem in which unwanted light entered the instrument and resulted in inaccurate temperature measurements of the Earth's surface. Prior to the correction, errors in the image data were as high as 10 °C in areas with extreme surface temperatures like Antarctic or desert regions. Mid-range surface temperatures typical of the United States were less affected by wide margins of error.

The USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science Center began using the software correction in its operational processing of Landsat 8 data in early 2017. The corrected image data is part of the public domain.

"Support from USGS means we'll be able to monitor the Thermal Infrared Sensor and its enhanced capabilities now that the stray-light algorithm has been implemented," Gerace said.

NASA's Landsat program of Earth-orbiting satellites has monitored global changes to the landscape since 1972. Landsat satellites orbit the Earth's poles and pass over the same spot every 16 days to study how the Earth changes over time.

GLOSSARY
astronomy
The scientific observation of celestial radiation that has reached the vicinity of Earth, and the interpretation of these observations to determine the characteristics of the extraterrestrial bodies and phenomena that have emitted the radiation.
BusinessRochester Institute of TechnologyLandsat 8Aaron GeraceMatthew MontanaroSensors & DetectorsNASAastronomyAmericaslight speed

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