Celebrating Apollo 11 moon landing

This week we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission, the spaceflight that first landed humans on the moon. Exploring the moon was a giant leap for mankind, also for the future of Earth observation. Up till today, moon samples are still used in today’s research.

In the project ‘Lunar Spectral Irradiance Measurement and modeling for absolute calibration of EO optical sensors’, funded and coordinated by the European Space Agency (ESA), a team of experts are deriving a Lunar Spectral Irradiance Model. This model predicts the lunar irradiance under various illumination conditions which will allow us to calibrate extra-terrestrial optical imaging sensors.

Lunar visits still relevant for today’s research

The moon has a similar brightness as Earth scenes, while it is extremely stable in the long term. The hyperspectral reflectance of soil and breccia moon samples, taken by the Apollo 16 mission,  are very useful to fill the spectral range of the lunar irradiance model. This allows radiometric calibration of a wide range of  multi- and hyperspectral imaging sensors. The ultimate goal of the calibration is to ensure downstream qualitatively sound remote sensing products.

The Moon has several illumination cycles, related to the position of Moon, Sun and Earth. To account for all lunar illumination conditions, at least 6 years of measurements are required.

Our calibration experts are proud to be part of this consortium together with researchers from the University of Valladolid and the National Physics Laboratory NPL.