Flight Calibration of the LROC Narrow Angle Camera

D. C. Humm, M. Tschimmel, S. M. Brylow, Prasun Mahanti, T. N. Tran, S. E. Braden, S. Wiseman, J. Danton, E. M. Eliason, Mark Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Characterization and calibration are vital for instrument commanding and image interpretation in remote sensing. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Narrow Angle Camera (LROC NAC) takes 500 Mpixel greyscale images of lunar scenes at 0.5 meters/pixel. It uses two nominally identical line scan cameras for a larger crosstrack field of view. Stray light, spatial crosstalk, and nonlinearity were characterized using flight images of the Earth and the lunar limb. These are important for imaging shadowed craters, studying ∼1 meter size objects, and photometry respectively. Background, nonlinearity, and flatfield corrections have been implemented in the calibration pipeline. An eight-column pattern in the background is corrected. The detector is linear for DN = 600 – 2000 but a signal-dependent additive correction is required and applied for DN < 600. A predictive model of detector temperature and dark level was developed to command dark level offset. This avoids images with a cutoff at DN = 0 and minimizes quantization error in companding. Absolute radiometric calibration is derived from comparison of NAC images with ground-based images taken with the Robotic Lunar Observatory (ROLO) at much lower spatial resolution but with the same photometric angles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-473
Number of pages43
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Calibration
  • Camera
  • LRO
  • Moon
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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