Suomi NPP VIIRS sensor data record verification, validation, and long-term performance monitoring



[1] The successful launch of the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership Satellite on 28 October 2011 with the key instrument Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite signifies a new era of moderate-resolution imaging capabilities following the legacy of AVHRR and Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). After a year and half of calibration and validation, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument is performing very well. By early 2013, the sensor data records have achieved provisional maturity status and have been used in the routine production of more than 20 environmental data records by users worldwide. Based on comparisons with MODIS, the VIIRS reflective solar band radiometric uncertainties are now comparable in reflectance to that of MODIS Collection 6 equivalent bands (within 2%) although radiance differences could be larger for several bands, while an agreement on the order of 0.1 K has also been achieved for the thermal emissive bands, except for bands with significant spectral differences or certain bands at extreme temperatures (below 200 K or above 343 K). The degradation in the VIIRS rotating telescope assembly mirrors is gradually leveling off after reaching ~30% and thus far has limited impact on instrument performance and products. Environmental data record users are generally satisfied with the VIIRS data quality which meets the product requirements. While the specific technical details are documented in other papers in this special issue and in Cao et al. (2013a), this paper focuses on the major findings of VIIRS calibration and validation since launch, radiometric performance validation, and uncertainties, as well as lessons learned.