Airborne imaging spectrometers have a history of about 20 years starting with the operation of AIS in 1982. During the following years, many other instruments were built and successfully operated, e.g., AVIRIS, CASI, DAIS-7915, and HyMap.
Since imaging spectrometers cover a spectral region with a large number of narrow contiguous bands they are able to retrieve the spectral reflectance signature of the earth allowing tasks such as mineral identification and abundance mapping, monitoring of vegetation properties, and assessment of water constituents. An essential prerequisite for the evaluation of imaging spectrometer data is a stable spectral and radiometric calibration. Although a considerable progress has been achieved in this respect over the last two decades, this issue is still technically challenging today, especially for low-to-medium cost instruments.
This paper introduces a new airborne imaging spectrometer, the ARES (Airborne Reflective Emissive Spectrometer) to be built by Integrated Spectronics, Sydney, Australia, and co-financed by DLR German Aerospace Center and the GFZ GeoResearch Center Potsdam, Germany. The instrument shall feature a high performance over the entire optical wavelength range and will be available to the scientific community from 2006 on. The ARES sensor will provide 150 channels in the solar reflective region (0.47-2.42 μm) and the thermal region (8.1-12.1 μm). It will consist of two co-registered optical systems for the reflective and thermal part of the spectrum. The spectral resolution is intended to be between 12 and 16 nm in the solar wavelength range and should reach 150 nm in the thermal range.
ARES will be used mainly for environmental applications in terrestrial ecosystems. The thematic focus is thought to be on soil sciences, geology, agriculture and forestry. Limnologic applications should be possible but will not play a key role in the thematic applications. For all above mentioned key application scenarios, the spectral response of soils, rocks, and vegetation as well as their mixtures contain the valuable information to be extracted and quantified.
The radiometric requirements for the instrument have been modeled based on realistic application scenarios and account for the most demanding requirements of the three application fields: a spectral bandwidth of 16 nm in the 0.47-1.8 μm region, and 12 nm in the 2.02 - 2.42 μm region. The required noise equivalent radiance is 0.05, 0.03, and 0.02 Wm-2sr-1μm-1 for the spectral regions 0.47- 0.89 μm, 0.89 - 1.8 μm, and 2.02 - 2.42 μm, respectively. In the thermal region similar simulations have been carried out. Results suggest a required noise equivalent temperature of 0.05 K for the retrieval of emissivity spectra in the desired accuracy. Nevertheless, due to system restrictions these requirements might have to be reduced to 0.1 K in the wavelength range between 8.1 and 10 μm and 0.1-0.2 K from 10 to 12.1 μm.