Detecting changes in the Earth's environment using satellite images of ocean and land surfaces must take into account atmospheric effects. As a result, major programs are underway to develop algorithms for image retrieval of atmospheric aerosol properties and atmospheric correction. However, because of the temporal and spatial variability of atmospheric transmittance, it is very difficult to model atmospheric effects and implement models in an operational mode. For this reason, simultaneous in situ ground measurements of atmospheric optical properties are vital to the development of accurate atmospheric correction techniques. Presented in this paper is a spectroradiometer system that provides an optimized set of surface measurements for the calibration and validation of atmospheric correction algorithms. The portable ground-based atmospheric monitoring system (PGAMS) obtains a comprehensive series of in situ irradiance, radiance, and reflectance measurements for the calibration of atmospheric correction algorithms applied to multispectral and hypserspectral images. The observations include: total downwelling irradiance, diffuse sky irradiance, direct solar irradiance, path radiance in the direction of the north celestial poles, path radiance in the direction of the overflying satellite, almucantar scans of path radiance, full sky radiance maps, and surface reflectance. Each of these parameters are recorded over a wavelength range from 350 to 1050 nm in 512 channels. The system is fast, with the potential to acquire the complete set of observations in only 8 to 10 minutes depending on the selected spatial resolution of the sky path radiance measurements.